Dr. Wouter Capitain | Postdoctoral researcher

  • 2021: PhD in Musicology (cum laude), University of Amsterdam
  • 2013: Research MA Art Studies (cum laude), University of Amsterdam
  • 2009: BA Musicology, University of Amsterdam

  • Employment
  • 2023 - 2025: Postdoctoral researcher in Musicology, University of Göttingen
  • 2016 - 2023: Lecturer in Musicology, Utrecht University
  • 2014 - 2016: Lecturer in Popular Music, University of Amsterdam
  • 2011 - 2014: Teaching Assistant in Musicology, University of Amsterdam

  • Fellowships
  • 2023 - 2025: Rubicon Grant from the Dutch Research Council (NWO) for two years postdoctoral research about music and human exceptionalism at the University of Göttingen
  • 2023: Edward W. Said Fellowship from Columbia University (Fellowship for four to six weeks archival research in the Edward W. Said Papers)
  • 2023: Music & Letters Award (Grant for two weeks archival research in the Edward W. Said Papers)
  • 2020: Finishing Fellowship from the Faculty of Humanities, University of Amsterdam (Fellowship for twelve months to finish my doctoral dissertation)
  • 2018: Visiting Fellowship from the Fulbright Scholar Program (Fellowship for three months archival research in the Edward W. Said Papers)

  • Teaching Experience

    Utrecht University:
  • BA Introduction to Musicology (2021, 2022)
  • BA Popular Music and Jazz (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022)
  • BA Music of the Western World since 1800 (2016, 2017)
  • BA Philosophy of Science (2021, 2022)
  • BA Research Seminar Musicology (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022)
  • BA and MA Thesis Supervision (35 theses since 2016)
  • MA Research Design for Musicologists (2022)

  • Amsterdam University:
  • BA Jazz and Pop Music (2014, 2015)
  • BA Revolutions in Music and Musicology (2013, 2014)
  • BA Theoretical Perspectives on Popular Music and Media (2014, 2015)
  • BA Popular Music: Case Study (2014, 2015)
  • MA Postcolonial Perspectives on Popular Music (2015)

  • Professional Affiliations
  • Member of the Forum Committee of the Royal Society for Music History of the Netherlands between 2020 and 2022.
  • Board Member (Secretary) of the Arnold Bake Society: Studying the Performing Arts World Wide between 2015 and 2017.

    • Music and Human Exceptionalism

      In my postdoctoral research project at the University of Göttingen I explore the role of music in the construction of human exceptionalism. In modern industrial society, we draw a sharp distinction between ‘humans’ and ‘animals,’ even though evolutionary theory explains that humans are also animals. The starting premise of this project is that the distinction between the human and animal is a cultural construction that partly takes shape through music. I therefore analyse the performative social function of music in shaping our discourse about human-animal distinctions. My case studies are twentieth-century popular artworks that revolve around the boundary between human and non-human life, namely: Disney’s The Jungle Book (1967) and The Little Mermaid (1989); George Orwell’s Animal Farm (1945) and Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949); and the environmental record Songs of the Humpback Whale (1970). My hypothesis is that these artworks employ a Eurocentric notion of ‘music’ to mark the boundaries between nature and culture, body and mind, and communication and art, and as such they delineate what counts as ‘human.’ This project expands existing debates about human exceptionalism in other disciplines. While these debates concentrate on the performative function of language and visual arts, I forge an analytical framework to interrogate how music is used to construct human-animal distinctions.

    • Postdoktorand Kulturelle Musikwissenschaft / Postdoctoral Researcher Cultural Musicology

    Academic Publications:

    • Book:
      Edward Said. Said on Opera. Edited by Wouter Capitain. New York: Columbia University Press 2024.
    • Peer-reviewed articles:
      Wouter Capitain. “From Counterpoint to Heterophony and Back Again: Reading Edward Said’s Drafts for Culture and Imperialism.” Journal of Musicological Research 41, no. 1 (2022): 1-22.
      Wouter Capitain. “Not a Second Time? John Lennon’s Aeolian Cadence Reconsidered.” Rock Music Studies 5, no. 2 (2018): 142-160.
      Wouter Capitain. “Edward Said on Popular Music.” Popular Music and Society 40, no.1 (2017): 49-60.
    • Book chapters:
      Wouter Capitain. “De persoonlijke en politieke luisterervaring van Edward W. Said.” In Muziek zit tussen je oren, edited by Erik Heijerman en Albert van der Schoot, 159-174. Eindhoven: Damon, 2023.
      Wouter Capitain. “Edward Said on Popular Music.” In Popular Music and the Postcolonial, edited by Oliver Lovesey, 49-60. New York: Routledge, 2019.
    • Book reviews:
      Wouter Capitain. Review essay titled "Representations of Edward Said." Postcolonial Studies 26, no.4 (2023): 602-606.
      Wouter Capitain. Review of Conflicting Humanities, edited by Rosi Braidotti and Paul Gilroy. London: Bloomsbury, 2016. Published in Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies 19, no. 3 (2017): 443-445.
      Wouter Capitain. Review of Beyond the Score: Music as Performance by Nicholas Cook. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. Published in the world of music 3, no. 2 (2014): 156-159.