Alexandra Huang-Kokina (PhD, MA, MSc, AFHEA)

Researcher in Word and Music Studies; Digital Researcher in Residence; Academic Developer

Background

Alexandra has recently completed her PhD in literature & music at the University of Edinburgh. Since the award of the PhD, she has worked as a digital researcher in residence and an academic developer at Edinburgh and has held positions as a visiting research fellow at various universities in the U.K. and Sweden. Her specialty areas include the interdisciplinary fields of word and music studies, digital humanities, intermediality studies, and comparative literature. Her PhD received the financial awards from the the Ministry of Education’s scholarship and the National Science and Technology Council’s annual fellowship programme.

Alexandra is currently turning her doctoral thesis into a monograph, titled The Musical Performativity of Twentieth-Century Piano Novels, which is under contract with Palgrave Macmillan for the Music and Literature book series. Her thesis concerns the depiction of female piano performance at the turn-of-the-twentieth-century novelistic world. It puts together the theoretical approaches of performativity and word and music studies to examine the manifestation of female pianism in a new literary tradition. The piano novels enact the liveness of musical performance as a textual construction, enabling musicality to be remediated through its dialectical relationship with words. Additionally, piano performance is depicted as the stylisation of the female body that punctures the binary practices within Western classical music, disrupting the schism between composers and performers, virtuosos and amateurs, vocal and instrumental genres, and masculine and feminine traditions. Therefore, this thesis argues that the early twentieth-century piano novels illuminate a new performative tradition that foregrounds the women players' unidiomatic pianism. 

Besides research activities, Alexandra is dedicated to piano performance, inter-art collaborations, and experimental music initiatives

Qualifications

  • University of Edinburgh - Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Comparative Literature & Music (Awarded July 2023)
  • Royal Conservatoire of Scotland - Master of Arts in Piano Performance (2020)
  • University of Edinburgh - Master of Science in English Literature and Modernism (2018)
  • National Taiwan University - Bachelor of Arts in Foreign Languages and Literatures (2015)

Responsibilities & affiliations

From 2022, Alexandra serves as a research associate at the strategic change unit within the University's Curriculum Transformation Programme. In 2023, she has been awarded an Associate Fellowship by the Higher Education Academy (now AdvanceHE). 

 

Undergraduate teaching

I teach undergraduate courses in the Department of English Literature. Courses taught: 

  • Literary Studies 1A (Poetry & Drama)
  • Literary Studies 1B (Prose)
  • English Literature in the World (1380-1788)
  • Scottish Literature 2A (poetry in the late-Medieval Stuart Court; literature in Scottish Romanticism & Enlightenment)
  • English Literature in the World, post-1789

In 2022, I served as an academic tutor to the University's SLICCs (student-led, individually-created courses) and the departmental tutor for the Sutton Trust, UK's leading organisation in the social mobility space. 

In 2023, I served as a coach to Students as Change Agents (SAChA) initiative, coaching university student agents from different disciplines to tackle real-world problems with a social, economic, and environmental impact, with a focus on student growth.

 

Postgraduate teaching

Postgraduate programmes at Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI): 

Semester 1: MSc Education Futures 

- Culture, Heritage and Learning Futures

- Education Futures: Knowledge Integration and Project Planning

Semester 2: MSc in Creative Industries & MSc Narrative Futures: Art, Data, Society

- Critical Creative Diversity

- Pitching Your Stories, Services and Products

Research summary

  • Word and music studies (musical novels; opera and literature)
  • Performance theories
  • Comparative literature
  • Translation studies
  • World literature in Modernism and post-modernism 
  •  Interdisciplinary musicology 
  • Opera in the multi-cultural world
  • The cultural history of Western art music in the 19th and 20th century

Project activity

'Enhancing International PG Student Experience at History, Classics & Archaeology'.

School of History, Classics & Archaeology. University of Edinburgh, Sep 2021 - Jan 2022. (as Research Assistant) 

Alexandra Huang works with Dr Wendy Ugolini (Principal Investigator) to run the five-month PTAS (Principal Teaching Award Scheme) Project. Her primary tasks include:

  1. Designing and coordinating fieldwork, interviews, and workshops targeted at postgraduate international students from culturally diverse backgrounds
  2. Assessing the Graduate School’s strategy and identifying relevant approaches to provide academic and pastoral support for overseas PG students
  3. Authoring the project report to share best practices with the Graduate School, College and University 
  4.  Presenting project overview and research findings at the internal staff meetings (e.g., School Forum; Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee) & communicating research with the Centre for Research in Education Inclusion and Diversity (CREID)

She has also launched the blog site, where you can see more information about this project: https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/enhancing-international-student-experience/

 

'Beyond-tune Traditional Music in Scotland'.

School of Scottish & Celtic Studies. University of Edinburgh, July - Sep 2021. (as Research Assistant) 

Alexandra Huang contributes to Phase I of a pilot study project in the development and contextualisation of a database centred on experimental music compositions by traditional musicians in Scotland, with Dr Lori Watson (Principal Investigator). Building on methodologies frequently used in ethnomusicology and artistic practice as research, Alexandra primarily worked on these specific tasks: literature search and analysis, the identification of key themes and the state of the art in recent scholarship development, the refinement plan for the qualitative survey, and the analysis of survey findings. The project website can be seen here:  https://tradmus.com/

 

'Ode to Autumn – Revisiting Frédéric Chopin in Scotland in Autumn 1848'.

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, 2020. 

The project is a fully edited film. Seen through the mind's eye of Jane Stirling, the film presents a story about the brilliant composer Frédéric Chopin visiting Scotland in autumn 1848. It incorporates recorded piano performances of Chopin's music and a cinematic representation of Chopin's journey through Scotland. All creative content is performed, written, recorded, directed, filmed by Alexandra. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxKPblEpylY&t=1s)

Current project grants

2022 National Science and Technology Council TOP Grants (£24,000) (research fellowship grant from the National Science and Technology Council of Taiwan) 

Past project grants

- Two-year scholarship for outstanding doctoral research in Humanities and Social Sciences ($32,000)
- Conference grant by the British Association of Modernist Studies (£225)
- Conference travel grant by the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (£500)

Papers delivered

  • ‘The Performative Logic of Modern Essays: Exploring the Autonomy of the Essay Form in Philosophy and Literature’. Logic and Modern Literature, University of Lausanne (Switzerland), September 2023 (Accepted).  
  • ‘Intermedial Musical Poetries: Voice Translation and the Transmission of Affect in Feng Zhi’s Sonnets’, British Association for Chinese Studies, King’s College London, September 2023 (Accepted).
  • ‘Resonating Bodies: Exploring the Transformative Affect in Piano Performance’. Intermediality and the Body Symposium, Lund University (Sweden), June 2023.
  • 'Pianistic Singing as Hopeful Female Voice in Early Twentieth-Century Novels'. Hopeful Modernisms: British Association for Modernist Studies 2022 Conference, University of Bristol, June 2022. 

  • 'The Ethics of Wagnerian Death in Virginia Woolf's The Voyage Out and Jacob's Room'. The 2022 International Conference on Virginia Woolf, June 2022. 

  • 'Musical Performativity of the Piano Novels by Thomas Mann, E. M. Forster and Virginia Woolf'. Northeast Modern Language Association's 53rd Annual Convention, Johns Hopkins University & The University of Buffalo, March 2022. 

  • 'The Pianistic Performance Ecosystem in the Novels by Virginia Woolf and Thomas Mann'. Words, Music and Environment Virtual Conference by the Forum at the International Association of Word and Music Studies, February 2022.

  • 'Musical Performativity of Piano Performance in Thomas Mann’s Tristan, E. M. Forster’s A Room with a View, and Virginia Woolf’s The Voyage Out'. Acoustic Text Symposium, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, October 2021. 
  • 'Inter-subjective Musical Connectivity: Virtuosic Piano-playing in Tristan, A Room with a View, and The Voyage Out'. 13th GradNet Annual Conference, University of Southampton, June 2021.
  • 'Reconfiguring the Positivity of Death Narratives in Virginia Woolf's Novelistic Writing'. English Literature Work-in-Progress Seminar, University of Edinburgh, January 2020. 
  • 'Happiness in Sweet Death: A Positive Reading of Virginia Woolf's Jacob's Room and The Waves'. Happiness: Enlightenment to Present Conference, University of Cambridge, October 2019. 
  • 'Word and Music Studies: Surveying beyond Cultural and Aesthetic Fields'. Taiwanese Scholars in Scotland Symposium, Taiwanese Scholars Association in Scotland, May, 2019.
  • Huang-Kokina, Alexandra. The Musical Performativity of Twentieth-Century Piano Novels. (Forthcoming, monograph under contract with Palgrave Macmillan, in the 'Palgrave Studies in Music and Literature' book series) 

  • Huang-Kokina, Alexandra. “Touching through Music, Touching through Words: The Performance and Performativity of Pianistic Touch in Musical and Literary Settings”. Performance Research 27.2, Routledge Journals by Taylor & Francis Group, 2023, 48-55.  <https://doi.org/10.1080/13528165.2022.2117419>

  • Huang-Kokina, Alexandra. "John Cage's Avant-garde Piano Theatre of the Early 1950s". The Modernist Review 40: Modernist and Avant-Garde Performance, June 2022. 

  • Huang-Kokina, Alexandra. “Intersubjective Musical Connectivity: From the Operatic Voice to Female Pianistic Singing in A Room With A View and The Voyage Out”. Emergence Vol. XII, Spring 2022, 19-39. 

  • “Sun Ra Arkestra: A Mythical Rebirth.” Inciting Sparks. 18 Sep. 2019. 

  • “Recomposing Caesuras: The Silent Creativity of Sounds in 'A Quiet Place' (2018 Film).” Inciting Sparks. 8 Aug. 2018. 

  • ‘Critical & Creative Digital Dynamics: Transforming the Piano Trio Experience via Interdisciplinary & Intermedial Arts’. Concert tour in U.K. & Sweden (Mar – Jun 2024): Funded multimedia concert series, blending live classical music with generative AI & digital media, consisting of 3 public-facing concerts in Växjö (Sweden), Edinburgh, and London, followed by panel discussions moderated by media experts & academics. 
  • ‘Harmonic Echoes: Duo Concert for Violin & Piano’. St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, December 2023.
  • Flaming June Chamber Music Concert. BirdsNest Art Gallery, Edinburgh, July 2022. 
  • Piano Recital. Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow/Online, May 2020. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRkiKNOv-2w&t=1s)
    • J.S. Bach: Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue in D minor, BWV 903 
    • F. Chopin: Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58 
    • A. Ginastera: Danzas Argentinas, Op. 2
  • Three on a Thursday: St. Cecelia's Day Piano Recital. St. Cecilia's Hall, Edinburgh, November 2018. 
    • G. Fauré: Nocturne in B Major, Op. 33 No.2
    • L. V. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 23 in f minor, Op. 57, 'Appassionata'
  • Fundraising Piano Recital. St. Marks Unitarian Church, Edinburgh, November 2018. 
  • World Music Day Piano Recital. St. Cecilia's Hall, Edinburgh, June 2018. 
  • 'The Musical Waves' Piano Recital. Wenshui Arts and Cultural Centre, Taipei, September 2017.
    • Gluck/Sgambati: Melodie from “Orfeo ed Euridice,” Wq. 30
    • F. Chopin: Piano Sonata No.3 in b-minor, Op. 58
  • 'Music Played Outdoors' Chamber Concert. Taipei Art Fringe Festival, Taipei, August, 2016. 
    • P. Tchaikovsky: Piano Trio in a-minor, Op. 50
  • 'Spiritual Time' Piano Recital. National Taiwan University, Taipei, December 2015. 
    • L. V. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.30 in E Major, Op.109; Piano Sonata No.31 in A-flat Major, Op.110
    • J. S. Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, Prelude and Fugue No.4 in e-flat minor, BWV 853
    • F. Chopin: Polonaise No.5 in f-sharp minor, Op.44, “Tragic”; Polonaise No.6 in A-flat Major, Op. 53, “Heroic”; Polonaise-Fantasie in A-Flat Major, Op. 61
  • 'Winterreise' Piano Recital. YinQi Culture & Music Foundation, Taipei, December 2014. 
    • J. S. Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, Prelude and Fugue No.4 in c-sharp minor, BWV 849
    • L. V. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.8 in c minor, Op.13, “Pathetique”
    • F. Mendelssohn: Piano Trio No.1 in d minor, Op. 49, Mvt. 1, 2
    • F. Chopin: Ballade No.3 in A-flat Major, Op. 47; Ballade No.4 in f minor, Op.52