William Cheng

Assistant Professor of Music

As an Assistant Professor of Music at Dartmouth College, I teach courses in history, media, ethics, disability, race, and digital games. Working at the crossroads of critical inquiry and public engagement, I advocate for interpersonal care as the heart of academic and activist labors. My current research explores how people's spoken and unspoken judgments of others' artistic, musical, and rhetorical abilities give rise to just versus unjust social relations (veneration, exoneration, violence). Between 2012–16, I was a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows.

[show more]

My books include Sound Play: Video Games and the Musical Imagination (Oxford University Press, 2014, published with AMS 75 PAYS Subvention), Just Vibrations: The Purpose of Sounding Good (University of Michigan Press, 2016, recipient of the AMS Philip Brett Award and named a 2016 Book of the Year by Times Higher Education), Why Listening to Beethoven Makes Me Feel So Respectable (and Other Vices of Musical Judgment) (f. Oxford, supported by Harvard's William F. Milton Fund), Touching Pitch: Dirt, Debt, Color (f. Michigan), and the edited volume Queering the Field (f. Oxford, with Gregory Barz).

My academic articles appear in Critical Inquiry, Ethnomusicology, Journal of the American Musicological Society, Journal of the Society for American Music, 19th-Century Music, and Cambridge Opera Journal. I blog for Huffington Post and have written op-eds for TIMEWashington PostPacific StandardSlate, RYOT.org, and Musicology Now. I serve on the editorial and advisory boards for The Journal of the Society for American Music, Music & the Moving Image, Women & Music, Ethnomusicology Review, and Sensate. In past years, I've enjoyed giving classical piano recitals featuring improvisations on themes from the audience.

[show less]
Personal Website Facebook Twitter LinkedIn
64 Hopkins, Music
HB 6187
Department:
Music
Education:
B.A. - Stanford University (Music, English) with Distinction and Honors, 2007
M.A. - Harvard University (Music), 2009
Ph.D. - Harvard University (Music), 2013
Post-doc - Harvard Society of Fellows, 2012-16

Selected Publications

SINGLE-AUTHORED BOOKS

Sound Play: Video Games and the Musical Imagination (Oxford University Press, 2014). Foreword by Richard Leppert

Just Vibrations: The Purpose of Sounding Good (University of Michigan Press, 2016). Foreword by Susan McClary.

Why Listening to Beethoven Makes Me Feel So Respectable (and Other Vices of Musical Judgment) (Oxford University Press, forthcoming)

Touching Pitch: Dirt, Debt, Color (University of Michigan Press, forthcoming)

 

EDITED VOLUMES

Queering the Field: Sounding Out Ethnomusicology (Oxford University Press, ed. with Greg Barz)

 

ARTICLES

“Taking Back the Laugh: Comedic Alibis, Funny Fails,” Critical Inquiry 43 (Winter 2017), 528–49.

“Staging Overcoming: Narratives of Disability and Meritocracy in Reality Singing Competitions,” Journal of the Society for American Music 11:2 (2017), 184–214.

“forty-nine fewer / cuarenta y nueve menos” (poem, with Spanish translation by Elías Krell), Ethnomusicology Review 20 (2016), http://ethnomusicologyreview.ucla.edu/content/forty-nine-fewer.

“Afterword: Toadofsky’s Music Lessons,” in Music Video Games: Performance, Politics, and Play, ed. Michael Austin (Bloomsbury Academic, 2016), 297–303.

Review for Journal of the American Musicological Society 67:1 (2014), 257–66, of Jonathan Sterne, ed., The Sound Studies Reader (Abingdon, UK, and New York: Routledge, 2012), and Trevor Pinch and Karin Bijsterveld, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).

“Acoustemologies of the Closet.” In The Oxford Handbook of Virtuality, ed. Mark Grimshaw (Oxford University Press, 2014), 337–48.

“Monstrous Noise: Silent Hill and the Aesthetic Economies of Fear.” In The Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Digital Media, ed. Carol Vernallis, John Richardson, and Amy Herzog (Oxford University Press, 2013), 173–90.

“Pleasure’s Discontents.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 66:3 (2013), 840–44.

“Role-Playing toward a Virtual Musical Democracy in The Lord of the Rings Online.” Ethnomusicology 56:1 (2012), 31–62. 

“Opera en abyme: The Prodigious Ritual of Korngold’s Die tote Stadt.” Cambridge Opera Journal 22:2 (2011), 115–46. 

“Hearts for Sale: The French Romance and the Sexual Traffic of Musical Mimicry.” 19th-Century Music 35:1 (2011), 34–71.

Speaking Engagements

INVITED KEYNOTES

2017

“Music and the Measures of Life,” Humanities Lecture Series (UNC Asheville, April 25)

“Locker Room Talk: Pussies, Guns, and Video Gaymers,” Susan B. Anthony Institute, Annual Rainbow Lecture (University of Rochester, April 13)

“Locker Room Talk,” cosponsored by Butler School of Music, Gender-Sexuality Center, the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, and Voices Against Violence (UT Austin, March 28)

“I, Spy: Violence, Voice, and Queer Ethics in Online Game Fieldwork,” Annual Meeting of the New England Chapter of the Society for Ethnomusicology (Middlebury College: March 18)

“Twelve Pro Tricks Musicians Don’t Want You to Know. You Won’t Believe Number 8!” 20th Annual Graduate Students in Music Conference (CUNY Graduate Center, March 10)

2015

“Hearing Good,” Midwest Graduate Music Consortium (Northwestern University, April 17)

2014

“Fake-Bit Fantasies,” Annual Ludomusicology Conference (University of Chichester, April 11, 2014)

 

CONFERENCE PAPERS

2017

“Alien Musicology: Britney Spears, Cyberleaks, and Our Obsession with Public Shaming,” Society for American Music (Montréal, QC, March 25)

2016

“Inspiration Porn: A Classroom Quandary,” American Musicological Society, Music & Disability Study Group (Vancouver, BC, November 3)

“Taking Back the Laugh,” Music & the Moving Image (NYU, May 28)

“Sound Cannons versus Black Lives,” Society for American Music (Boston, March 11)

2015

“Sounding Good: Musicology, Rhetoric, Repair,” American Musicological Society (Louisville, November 12)

“Blind Judgments: Music, Merit, Myth,” Society for American Music (Sacramento, March 5)

2014

“Staging Overcoming: Disability, Meritocracy, and the Envoicing of Dreams,” Society for Ethnomusicology (Pittsburgh, November 13)

“Staging Overcoming,” American Musicological Society (Milwaukee: November 7)

“Theory, Born This Way,” American Musicological Society (Milwaukee, November 7)

2013

“Kefka’s Laugh, Celes’s Cry,” Society for Ethnomusicology (Indianapolis, November 16)

“Gaming Opera,” Verdi’s Third Century: Italian Opera in the New Millennium (NYU, October 11)

“Opera, Video Games, and Aesthetic Distillation,” Music on Small Screens: Music & Media Study Group of the International Musicological Society (Carleton University, July 12)

“Acoustemologies of the Closet,” Modern Language Association (Boston, January 4)

2012

“Minima Opera: Silent Bullets, Digital Divas, and the Case of Inge Wagner,” American Musicological Society (New Orleans, November 2).

“Atrocity, Amplified: Radio, Violence, and Fallout 3,” Music & the Moving Image (NYU, June 2)

“A Song at the End of the World,” Society for American Music (Charlotte, March 16)

2011

“Queering Disability/Disabling Queerness: The Carnivalesque Politics of R. Kelly’s Global Closet,” Feminist Theory and Music (ASU: 25 September 2011); earlier version presented at Society for American Music (Cincinnati, March 11)

“Online Gamespaces and Prosthetic Choreographies of Queer Expression,” Society for Ethnomusicology (Philadelphia: 19 November 2011); earlier version presented at Music and the Moving Image (NYU, May 22)

2010

“Hearts for Sale: The French Romance and the Sexual Traffic of Musical Mimicry,” American Musicological Society (Indianapolis, November 6)

“No Woman’s Land,” American Musicological Society (Indianapolis, November 5)

“Voices in the Abyss: Mise-en-Abyme, Reflexive Hermeneutics, and Korngold’s Die tote Stadt,” AMS New England Chapter Meeting (Amherst College, October 2)

“Static Trauma in Silent Hill: Echoes of a Ludological Nightmare,” Music & the Moving Image (NYU, May 22)

“A Question of Co-Hobbitation: Role-Playing toward a Virtual Musical Democracy in The Lord of the Rings Online,” Society for American Music (Carleton University, March 21)

“Dead Cities, Live Lessons,” Stanford Opera Forum (Stanford University, February 27)

2009

“When Hobbits Collide: Controversies of Musical Role-Play in The Lord of the Rings Online,” Music & the Moving Image (NYU, May 30)

“The French Romance and the Fetish of Female Amateurism,” Feminist Theory & Music (Greensboro, NC, May 29)

2006

“Hermeneutics of Autobiography and Program in Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Overture-Fantasy,” Stanford Graduate Music Colloquium (Stanford University, November 13)

“Aesthetics of Evil in Liszt’s Music: Perverting the Trajectory of Redemption in Mephisto Waltz No. 1,” AMS Northern California & Pacific Southwest Chapter Meeting (UC Berkeley, May 6)

 

OTHER INVITED LECTURES

2017

“Interrogating the Nation / Repositioning U.S. Music in the 21st Century,” Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, with Charles Hiroshi Garrett and Carol J. Oja (Harvard University, May 11–12)

“I, Spy: Violence, Voice, and Queer Ethics in Online Game Fieldwork,” Music Department Colloquium (UNC Asheville, April 25)

“The Prince and the Pauper: The Purpose of Sounding Great,” Music Department Colloquium (UNC Chapel Hill, April 21)

“All the Beautiful Musicians,” Music Department Colloquium (Florida State University, April 19)

“Aesthetics as Eugenics,” Music Department Colloquium (University of Georgia, April 18)

“Music and the Measures of Life,” Colloquium, cosponsored by WGS and Germanic Languages & Literatures (University of Michigan, April 12)

“The Curious Incident 0f the Millionaire Busker in the Day-Time,” Music Department Colloquium (Tufts University, April 10)

“Academia, Responsibility, and the Movement for Black Lives” (Faculty Roundtable), “Blacks Lives Matter: Music, Race, and Justice,” Annual Conference of the Harvard Graduate Music Forum (Harvard University, February 3)

2016

“Aching for Repair: Piano, Prose, Impasse,” Music Department Colloquium (Cornell University, April 14)

“Care-Oriented Musicology,” Music Symposium (Eastman School of Music / University of Rochester, April 7)

“When Music Isn’t Enough,” Music & Disability Panel (Clark University, April 6)

“What If Music Isn’t Sex?” Music Department Colloquium Series (New York University, March 31)

2015

“Earsplitting,” Steven Larson Distinguished Lecture Series (University of Oregon, March 20)

2014

“Groovy Choreographies,” Ethnomusicology Colloquium (Brown University, November 19)

2013

“Staging Overcoming,” Symposium: Music & Disability (CUNY Graduate Center, May 21)

2012

“Sex, Lies, and Musical Alibis,” Harvard Society of Fellows Lecture (Harvard University, December 4)

2011

“A Song at the End of the World,” Harvard Musicology Forum (Harvard University, October 21)

2010

“Music and Culture in The Lord of the Rings Online” (seminar at Stanford University, May 27)

2009

“19th-Century Keyboard Improvisations,” Classical Improvisation (seminar at Brown University, December 2)

“Improvisation Duel and Roundtable,” Symposium on Early Recordings (Stanford University, January 16)