Faculty & Staff Profiles

Karen Fournier

Associate Professor of Music Theory and Director of Research

Karen Fournier‘s principal area of research, the role played by women in the British punk movement during its foundation in the mid-1970s, has generated a book-length study provisionally titled Punk and Disorderly: Acting Out Gender in Class in Early British Punk. The study focuses its attention on such British bands as Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Slits, X-Ray Spex, the Adverts, and Delta 5, and examines how punk challenged and redefined conventional gender stereotypes in popular culture. Additionally, she has published essays on other aspects of British and American punk in such collections as Beyond No Future: Cultures of German Punk (eds. Mirko Hall, Seth Howes, and Cyrus Shahan), Saints, Sinners, and Seekers: A Collection of Essays on Rock and Religion (eds. Alex DiBlasi and Bob McPartland), Albums (ed. James Perone), and An Encyclopedia of the 100 Greatest Bands of All Times (ed. David Moskovitz).

Most recently, Fournier contributed the volume The Words And Music of Alanis Morissette to the Praeger Singer-Songwriter Series. While only tangentially related to her interest in punk, this book nonetheless explores similar issues surrounding societal expectations of, and limits placed upon, female behavior. Among other things, the book argues that the anger and aggression that marks Morissette’s 1995 breakthrough album, Jagged Little Pill, traces a direct lineage to the “hysteria” parodied in the performances of many late-1970s female punks.

Using the history of music theory as the basis for a broader study of conceptual change, Fournier has also published articles on epistemology in such journals as The Journal of Music and Meaning, The Journal of Musicological Research, The Journal of Culture and Power, The College Music Symposium, and Music Theory Spectrum. Her most recent work in this area draws the analogy between research methodologies and biological species and proposes an evolutionary model to explain the growth and development of knowledge in the area of music theory. Her theories stand in diametric opposition to the more popular Kuhnian “revolutionary” model to which many critical studies of music scholarship tend to allude in their descriptions of the field.

An award-winning pedagogue, Fournier joined the faculty of the University of Michigan in 2005 after holding the position of assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin. She has a particular interest in music theory pedagogy and has spoken at a number of pedagogy panels and workshops at national meetings of the College Music Society and the Society for Music Teacher Education over the past several years.


BA (history), Carleton University
BA with distinction (music), University of Ottawa
MA (musicology), University of Western Ontario
PhD (music theory), University of Western Ontario

All faculty profiles