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Elizabeth McLain

Elizabeth McLain, Instructor of Musicology

Name, Title
Elizabeth McLain, Instructor of Musicology

School of Performing Arts
241B Squires Student Center (0138)
290 College Avenue
Blacksburg, VA  24061
540-231-5335 |

Elizabeth McLain graduated from Virginia Tech with a BA in History and a BA in Music in 2010, a MA in Historical Musicology from the University of Michigan, and is finishing her PhD in Historical Musicology from UM 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 University of Michigan, and she serves as the secretary of the Music and Disability Study Group of the American Musicological Society. She is also a Director for the New River Valley Disability Resource Center and the 2020 recipient of the Sally Bohland Award for Exceptional Leadership in Access and Inclusion.

  • Music & Spirituality in the 20th century
  • Disability Culture
  • Inclusive Pedagogy & Universal Design for Learning
  • Modernist movements in the fin-de-siècle and early 20th century
  • Postmodernism
  • PhD in Historical Musicology, University of Michigan
  • MA in Historical Musicology, University of Michigan
  • BA in Music, Virginia Tech
  • BA in History, Virginia Tech
  • Accessibility and Accommodations Working Group
  • Co-Chair, Disability Caucus
  • Access Advocate for CLAHS
  • Secretary, American Musicological Society Music and Disability Study Group
  • Director, New River Valley Disability Resource Center
  • Board Member, Adaptive Sports & Inclusive Recreation Initiative
  • Sally Bohland Award for Exceptional Leadership in Access and Inclusion, 2020

Journal Articles

In Tempore Belli: George Crumb's Black Angels and the Vietnam War.” Journal of Musicological Research 38, no. 1 (2019): 44–68.

Saffle, Michael and Elizabeth McLain. “Edward MacDowell’s Letters to Templeton Strong in the Library of Congress.” Fontes Artis Musicae 66, no. 3 (July–Sept 2019): 23 –51.

“Discourse and Soliloquy: Compositional Techniques of Olivier Messiaen as Exhibited in his Work for Chamber Ensemble and Solo Piano, Oiseaux exotiques.Philologia 2 (2010): 66–72.

Book Chapters

Ressourcement Theology in the Interwar Works of Olivier Messiaen.” In Messiaen in Context. Edited by Robert Sholl. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press (manuscript accepted).

“Messiaen’s L’Ascension: Musical Illumination of Spiritual Texts after the Model of Tournemire’s L’Orgue Mystique.” In Mystic Modern: The Music, Thought, and Legacy of Charles Tournemire. Edited by Stephen Schloesser and Jennifer Donelson.  Richmond: Church Music Association of America, 2014.


  • 2020       “Disability Culture and Community” for the MDisability Internship Program at Michigan Medicine (July 14)
  • 2020       Expert on Disability Culture for Webinar on Disability Access in the Workplace, Guardian Insurance (May 20)
  • 2019       Disability and Universal Design for Learning: Workshops for Faculty/Staff and GSIs, University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance, 24 October.
  • 2019       Disabled User Experience Panel, Big Ten Academic Alliance Library Conference, Ann Arbor MI, 22 May.
  • MUS 3135 & 3136: History and Analysis of Musical Styles
  • MUS 3145 & 3146: Musical Styles Literature Lab
  • MUS 3114: Symphonic Literature
  • MUS 3124: Twentieth-Century Music Literature
  • MUS 4124/RLCL 4104: Special Topics in Music History and Literature / Advanced Humanities Topics: Music and Spirituality in the Twentieth Century