Larissa A. Irizarry awarded PhD

Pitt Musicology student Larissa A. Irizarry will be awarded the degree of PhD in Musicology on April 30th, 2022. 

Aside from her work on queer vocality in the musical film, which is published in Women & Music (“Queer Intimacy: Vocality in Jesus Christ Superstar.” Women & Music 24, [2020]: 162-177), her work engages with 21st-century avant garde opera and popular music. She explores such themes as the feminization of sonic grief, operatic discourse on gender-based violence in the era of #Metoo, and Black feminist theory in visual albums. Her work on Janelle Monáe was awarded the Randy Martin Prize by the Cultural Studies Association and the West Virginia Press Award by the Allegheny Chapter of the American Musicological Society. Her work on rape-related pregnancy in the opera Adriana Mater (Saariaho 2005) was awarded the Don O. Franklin Prize in Musicology by the University of Pittsburgh. 

Larissa is a two-time awardee of the Andrew W. Mellon Predoctoral Fellowship in support of her dissertation, which she summarizes as follows:

"My dissertation, ‘Performing Political Affect: Alter Egos and Black Feminism in Popular Music,’ explores the intellectual labor and political visionary work of Black women in popular music when performing through their alter egos. With Janelle Monáe, Nicki Minaj, and Beyoncé as three distinct case studies, I apply Black feminist theory to a creative process I call alter egoing. I theorize that by performing through their alter egos these artists act as critical interpreters of contemporary political culture in the United States. Mindful of the historical emergence of alter egoing in the Obama era, I consider such experimental modes of representation as, in part, a response to American anti-Black populisms propelled by rhetorics of white nostalgia that emerged after 2002. In my analysis of alter egoing, I illuminate the essential analytical work that Black feminist theory does for musical analysis by cross-examining music videos, visual albums, records and interviews in which alter egos are elicited (Monáe’s Metropolis Suites [2007, 2010, 2012] and Dirty Computer [2018]; Minaj’s Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded [2012], The Pinkprint [2014], Queen [2018]; Beyonce’s I am… Sasha Fierce [2008], Lemonade [2016], Black Is King [2020]). Ultimately, I argue how the critical creative process of alter egoing not only responds to contemporary US political culture, but simultaneously imagines futures that are explicitly Black, female, and queer."

Hear Larissa talk about some of her related work on The Music at Pitt Podcast.

Congratulations, Dr. Irizarry!