Stephan Pennington


Stephan Pennington is an Associate Professor of Music at Tufts University. His research interests are concerned with the musical performances of identity and he has presented on a wide range of topics from on the rumba craze in 1930s Germany to appropriation as an historical process. He has published in the Journal of the American Musicological Society, Journal of the Royal Musical Association, Ethnomusicology Forum, and Women & Music. He is currently working on two book projects, one on transgender vocality and the second on the persistence of enlightenment white supremacy in current musicological culture.

Research Focus

Passing Tones: Transgender Vocality, Race, and Music

While transgender people have been present in society for centuries, scholarship has only begun to take notice, mostly as objects with little attention paid to how transgender people articulate their own identity. The emergence of Transgender Studies has attempted to rectify this, but little has been done on transgender performers from within the fields of Music Studies. Stephan Pennington’s current book project, Passing Tones: Transgender Vocality, Race, and Music, is a series of case studies of transgender musicians from the 1950s to the present day, analyzing them intersectionally through the lens of race, history, and culture, in order to illuminate the nuanced and diverse shifts in the fabrication of racialized gender identity performance over time. This project will complicate narratives of transgender and cisgender racialized identities and serve as a valuable set of theories and practical tools for those scholars interested in the analysis of the way vocal performance if fabricated and its relation to race, gender, and sexuality.