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Marie-Hélène Benoit-Otis

Associate professor in musicology

An encounter with Marie-Hélène Benoit-Otis, associate professor in musicology at the Université de Montréal Faculty of Music and holder of the Canada Research Chair in Music and Politics.

  • What distinguishes your way of teaching?

Its interactivity! Teaching, for me, is a conversation. At both the undergraduate and graduate levels I’m always seeking to raise questions with my students, to make them think based on selected reading, to lead them to formulate hypotheses by themselves rather than having me deliver ready-made answers. That helps keep everyone awake, even in the most theoretical classes!

  • Can you tell us about your area of research?

Most of my current research projects explore the connections between music and politics. Through different case studies I try to understand how music can confirm those in power (for example, by serving as a propaganda tool), or contrarily inspire a protest or resistance movement.

  • In what way have the directives surrounding COVID-19 modified your way of teaching?

I’m fortunate to have been on a study and research year since January 2020, which means I have no classes for the end of this winter semester. That really simplifies matters! With students that I’m directing for their master’s or Ph.D., adapting is pretty simple: we meet by videoconference, and collectively we’ve slowed down the pace of work so that everyone can remain in physical and psychological health to the greatest possible extent. Taking care of ourselves and others is the number one priority in an exceptional context like the one we’re going through!

November 2020