Location: Bowdoin / Tracy McMullen


Tracy McMullen

Assistant Professor of Music

Contact Information


Gibson Hall - 201

Teaching this semester

AFRS 2281/MUS 2281. History of Jazz II

Provides a socio-cultural, historical, and analytical introduction to jazz music from around 1950 to the present. Students learn to understand the history of jazz in terms of changes in musical techniques and social values and to recognize music as a site of celebration and struggle over relationships and ideals. Students increase their ability to hear differences among performances and styles. They gain greater knowledge of US history as it affects and is affected by musical activities and learn to appreciate the stakes and motives behind the controversies and debates that have often surrounded various styles of African American music.

GSWS 3103/MUS 3103. Gender, Sexuality, and Popular Music

Employs gender as a theoretical tool to investigate the production, consumption, and representation of popular music in the United States and around the world. Examines how gender and racial codes have been used historically, for example to describe music as “authentic” (rap, rock) or “commercial” (pop, new wave), and at how these codes may have traveled, changed, or re-appeared in new guises over the decades. Considers how gender and sexuality are inscribed at every level of popular music as well as how music-makers and consumers have manipulated these representations to transgress normative codes and open up new spaces in popular culture for a range of sexual and gender expressions. Juniors and seniors only; sophomores admitted with consent of the instructor during the add/drop period.

MUS 4040. Senior Project in Music

All senior majors must take this course, which involves either a single semester of independent work or the second semester of an honors thesis. In addition to weekly individual meetings with a faculty advisor, students meet as a group with the entire faculty several times during the semester. Must be taken in the spring of the senior year. Open only to senior music majors.

Teaching next semester

AFRS 1592/GSWS 1592/MUS 1292. Issues in Hip-Hop I

Traces the history of hip-hop culture (with a focus on rap music) from its beginnings in the Caribbean to its transformation into a global phenomenon by the early 1990s. Explores constructions of race, gender, class, and sexuality in hip-hop’s production, promotion, and consumption, as well as the ways in which changing media technology and corporate consolidation influenced the music. Artists/bands investigated include Grandmaster Flash, Run-D.M.C., Public Enemy, De La Soul, Queen Latifah, N.W.A., MC Lyte, Snoop Doggy Dogg, and Dr. Dre.

MUS 3104. Music and Philosophy

An advanced seminar that applies critical and cultural theory to music with special emphasis on psychoanalysis, phenomenology, critical theory, improvisation, and music and subjectivity. Five philosophers are examined in depth and may include: Adorno, Agamben, Barthes, Baudrillard, Butler, Derrida, Kristeva, Jankélévitch, Nancy, Plato, and Pythagoras. Various genres of music considered.

Tracy McMullen: Bowdoin College: Music

Tracy McMullen is a saxophonist, composer, and assistant professor of American Vernacular Music at Bowdoin College. Her courses examine jazz and popular music within the context of American culture, including “Issues in Hip Hop,” “Gender, Sexuality, and Popular Music,” “Rebel Yell: Punk Music,” and “Music in Everyday Life.” Professor McMullen’s articles have appeared in the peer-reviewed Journal of Jazz Studies, Journal of Popular Music Studies, Current Musicology, and Critical Studies in Improvisation/Études Critiques en Improvisation and many edited volumes, including Big Ears: Listening for Gender in Jazz Studies; Negotiated Moments: Improvisation, Sound and Subjectivity; People Get Ready: The Future of Jazz is Now; The Encyclopedia of African American Music; The Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies; and the Grove Dictionary of American Music. Her forthcoming manuscript, Replay: Repetition, Identity, and the Fear of the Real (Wesleyan University Press) considers the growth of live musical re-enactment in relation to the decline of the modern liberal subject.  Her second major project investigates improvisation as an alternative model for negotiating subjectivity, suggesting a theorization of an improvisative, rather than a performative.

As a jazz/experimental saxophonist and composer, she has performed or recorded with David Borgo, George Lewis, Anthony Davis, Dana Reason, Mark Dresser, Pauline Oliveros, and many others and can be heard on the Cadence Jazz label.

B.A. Stanford University
M.M., M.A., University of North Texas
Ph.D. University of California, San Diego

Peer-reviewed Articles

2016 “Approaching the Jazz Past: MOPDtK’s Blue and Jason Moran’s ‘In My Mind: Monk at Town Hall, 1959.’” The Journal of Jazz Studies, Vol. 11 (2) (Fall 2016).

2014 “‘Bring It On Home’: Robert Plant, Janis Joplin, and the Myth of Origin.” The Journal of Popular Music Studies, Vol. 26 (2) (June 2014).

2010 “Subject, Object, Music: John Cage, Pauline Oliveros, and Eastern (Western) Philosophy in Music.” Critical Studies in Improvisation/Études Critiques en Improvisation, Vol. 6 (2) (December 2010).

2006 “Corpo-Realities: Keepin’ it Real in ‘Music and Embodiment’ Scholarship.” Current Musicology, No. 82 (Fall 2006), 61-80.

Book Chapters

2016 “Improvisation Within a Scene of Constraint: Judith Butler interviewed by Tracy McMullen” in Negotiated Moments: Improvisation, Sound and Subjectivity, edited by Gillian Siddal and Ellen Waterman, p. 21-36. Duke University Press.

2014 “The Improvisative,” in The Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies, edited by George Lewis and Ben Piekut. Oxford University Press.

2013 “People, Don’t Get Ready: Improvisation, Democracy, and Hope” in People Get Ready: The Future of Jazz in Now, edited by Ajay Heble and Robert Wallace. Duke University Press.

2008 “Identity for Sale: Glenn Miller, Wynton Marsalis and Cultural Replay in Music.” In Big Ears: Listening for Gender in Jazz Studies, edited by Nichole Rustin and Sherrie Tucker. Duke University Press.

Book Reviews

2016 Sounding Race in Rap Songs, by Loren Kajikawa. In Current Musicology, No. 101 (Fall 2016).

2008 Sounding Out: Pauline Oliveros and Lesbian Musicality, by Martha Mockus. In Critical Studies in Improvisation/Études Critiques en Improvisation, Vol. 4 (2) (December 2008).

Encyclopedia Entries

2016 “Buddhism.” In The Encyclopedia of African American Culture, edited by Gerald Early. Greenwood Press.

2016 “Reenacting Historic Jazz Performances.” In The Oxford Handbooks Online in Music edited by Alexander Rehding. Oxford University Press.

2013 “Gender.” In Grove Dictionary of American Music, second edition, edited by Charles Hiroshi Garrett. Oxford University Press.

2011 “Brass Bands, Orchestras, and Dance Bands, 1919-1942.” In Encyclopedia of African American Music, edited by Emmett G. Price III, Tammy L. Kernodle, and Horace J. Maxile. Greenwood Press.

2011 “Rhythm n’ Blues, 1968-1980.” In Encyclopedia of African American Music, edited by Emmett G. Price III, Tammy L. Kernodle, and Horace J. Maxile. Greenwood Press.

2011-2013 Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholar in the Humanities, University of Southern California.

2009-2010 Visiting Scholar with the Beatrice M. Bain Research Group, University of California, Berkeley.

2007-2008 Postdoctoral Scholar with the “Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice” (ICASP) Research Initiative, University of Guelph, ON, Canada. 

2003-2007 University of California Predoctoral Humanities Fellowship, University of California, San Diego.  One of only four fellowships awarded each year, campus-wide. Two years teaching-release.

2006  The Erickson Prize for Excellence in Research in Music, University of California, San Diego.

2006  The Jazz Society of Lower Southern California Award for Excellence in Jazz Performance, University of California, San Diego.

2002-2003 Scholarship in Composition, University of North Texas.

2001-2002  The David M. Schimmel Memorial Scholarship in Composition, University of North Texas.