Winnie W. C. Lai Named Mellon Fellow

The Dartmouth Department of Music is excited to welcome Winnie W. C. Lai as a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow (2024-26). 

Dr. Lai is an (ethno)musicology and sound scholar and returning singer-songwriter. Her doctoral studies in music at the University of Pennsylvania as a Benjamin Franklin Fellow (2018–2022, 2023–2024), Tarnopol Graduate Fellow (2020–2021), and Price Lab Andrew W. Mellon Mid-Doctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities (2022–2023) led to a hybrid-mode dissertation entitled "Sounding Freedom: Political Aurality and Sound Acts in Hong Kong (Post-)Protest Spaces." Dr. Lai avidly ruminates on the theoretical entanglements of (un)sounding matters, auralities, and power. Working across sound studies, political theories, and matters of Hong Kong, she experiments with intermedial methods and field materials to craft spaces for sensory experience. She also studies performed vocalities in singing and everyday living and the acoustemological mode of listening, particularly in Asian cultures and the Sinophone world. She has received the James T. Koetting Prize (2024), SEM 21st Century Fellowship (2023), Penfield Research Award (2022), Charles Seeger Prize (Honorable Mention in 2021), and Rayson Huang Scholarship in Music (2017).

As a global citizen and a young intellect focusing on sonic contestation, Dr. Lai maintains one belief: music and (ethno)musicology come with a social obligation. Hong Kong's 2014 Umbrella Movement was a turning point that transformed her from a fledgling singer-songwriter (winner of the Best Music Video Award from Sony Music Entertainment Hong Kong in 2013) to a junior music/sound scholar working on protest sounds. That metamorphosis has evolved into her academic and personal mission—to be a candid sound scholar and being. In addition to her ongoing intermedial productions and research on power dynamics in (un)sounding social spheres, she is rebuilding her interests as a scholar/performer, concentrating on Sinophone/East Asian R&B and pop music and Cantopop.