Elizabeth McLain graduated from Virginia Tech with a BA in History and a BA in Music in 2010, and she is finishing her PhD in Historical Musicology from the University of Michigan under the guidance of Jane F. Fulcher. Supported by a Lurcy Fellowship, her dissertation Catholic, Nonconformist, Surrealist, Artist: Olivier Messiaen’s Intellectual and Aesthetic Agenda in the 1930s situates Messiaen’s early works at the intersection of the composer-organist-improviser tradition, Resourcement theology, Nonconformist ideology, and Surrealist aesthetics. As a researcher, she specializes in expressions of spirituality in music since the 1870s. Her recent publications include a chapter in Mystic Modern: The Music, Thought, and Legacy of Charles Tournemire, an article on George Crumb’s Black Angels for the Journal of Musicological Research, a forthcoming chapter on Resourcement theology in Messiaen in Context from Cambridge University Press, and an article co-written with Michael Saffle for Fontes Artis Musicae concerning the Edward MacDowell/Templeton Strong correspondence housed at the Library of Congress.
As a teacher, McLain emphasizes pedagogies of inclusion in her classroom. Her disability advocacy work informs her teaching philosophy, and she develops multiple modes of engagement with her students to enable them to access the history, theory, and beauty of the Western Art Music tradition. She pioneered and implemented training on Disability, Accessibility, and Inclusive Teaching at the School of Music, Theatre & Dance at the University of Michigan, and she serves as the secretary of the Music and Disability Study Group of the American Musicological Society.