About Melissa Van Drie

sensing sound across different cultural sites, both past and present…

I’m a researcher, historian and performer living in Copenhagen. I work across the disciplines of theatre, the history of science and technology, music, and food to write cultural histories of sound and listening. I began the Sounds Delicious project because food and cooking experiences have played a major role in transforming my sensibilities, nurturing my curiosity in human and nonhuman world-making, and helping me connect with different people from different places. I noticed that sound is often underdeveloped in food narratives and I wanted to explore how turning attention to the sonic could enrichen ways of understanding food issues and bring out forgotten voices: bringing attention to how we got here and what changes are needed for the future. The initial research of this project happened during a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellowship awarded by the European Union (2018-2020). I believe in creative, historically-rooted storytelling and the power of performance to learn, to reflect, and to act.

I’ve been attuning to sonic resonances all my life. First, I played classical music (clarinet, piano, voice), danced, and studied literature (Emory U.). Then I did a Master in Musicology at NYU, followed by a Ph.D. in Theatre Studies at the Sorbonne-Paris 3 (in French). For my Ph.D., I became interested in 19th century scientific, technological and artistic experimental research on sound, hearing, and listening, which created spectacular listening apparatuses and rhythm machines, elaborated new sensory epistemologies, and impacted everyday life in occidental cultures. More specifically, my Ph.D. examined the relationships between the development of early sound reproduction technologies (phonograph, telephone, microphone, théâtrophone, headphones) and changes to late 19th century European theatrical creation, performance practices and sites (particularly in Paris). Creating collaborative re-enactments with artefacts, performance-lectures and interactive sensory exhibitions are central to my academic research.

I’ve held postdoctoral research fellowships working on 19th-21st historical and historiographical topics of sound in different music, theatre, STS, medical humanities, digital humanities and media studies projects at: the Sorbonne Paris 1 & the EHESS (Paris, FR); the National French Library & the CNRS (Paris); the University of Maastricht (NL); the University of Cambridge (UK); the University of Copenhagen (DK).  

Email me at melissa.vandrie@gmail.com

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