Jessica A. Schwartz

Jessica A. Schwartz, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Musicology

The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music

405 Hilgard Ave.

Los Angeles, CA 90095-1623

Ph. 310-825-4321

    Jessica A. Schwartz was born in Los Angeles, CA during the formative years of the city’s punk scene. Schwartz attended UC Berkeley, receiving a PhD in Music from New York University (2012), which was followed by an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of Music at Columbia University for two years. Schwartz is currently an Associate Professor of Musicology at UCLA, teaching courses on punk, musical subcultures, rock analysis, and silence. Schwartz's academic work concentrates on sonic histories of militarization and imperial violence, affective alliances, and creative dissent through historical, ethnographic, and theoretical methods. It has been featured in journals such as Women and Music, Music and Politics, Punk & Post-Punk, and American Quarterly.

    Schwartz's first book, which is forthcoming from Duke University Press, is titled Radiation Sounds: Marshallese Music and Nuclear Silences. The study explores the ways in which Marshallese music archives radioactive movements that the U.S. maintains are "insensible" and their impacts on Marshallese indigenous lifeways, community formation, and health, with particular attention given to the role of "nuclear affected atolls" in the emergence of the nation-state, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and ongoing decolonization. A second book project details listening practices and technologies shaped by the presence of nuclear weaponry in the United States. Schwartz is editing a collection of essays with Noriko Manabe, titled Nuclear Music: Sonic Responses to War, Disaster, and Power and works with Marshallese, U.S. American, and Western Shoshone musicalities to contemplate nuclear issues.

    In 2013, Schwartz cofounded and currently serves as an academic consultant to the Marshallese Educational Initiative, a 501(c)(3) not-for-project organization based in Arkansas. Schwartz plays guitar and performs in collaborative punk and noise projects, such as transnational experimental collective, Phame. 


    Complete CV available upon request


    Radiation Sounds: Marshallese Music and Nuclear Silences. Duke University Press (under contract, submitted to editor)  


    Books In Progress

    Nuclear Music: Sonic Responses to War, Disaster, and Power. Co-edited with Noriko Manabe.  Oxford University Press (under contract)


    Smashing the System: Punk Musicalities and the Myths of Resilience and Resistance  (monograph and digital component) 


    Engaging Punk Project. Student modules (prototyped), website (up), listening guides (in progress), online book companion, interactive map, living archive, video game

    Survival Sound Systems: Atomic Listening Cultures in Postwar America

    Marshallese Culture and Language: A Brief Text (online component, a MEI short course text)

    Journal Articles and Book Chapters

    “Laughing All the Way to the Stage: A Pedagogy of Comedic Dissidence in Punk and Hip Hop” with Scott Robertson. Smith, G.D., Dines, M. & Parkinson, T. eds. 2017. Punk Pedagogies: Music, Culture and Learning. New York, NY: Routledge.   (in press)


    “Marshallese Language and Diaspora.” Amerasia, 43.1 (2017): 105-135.


    “Matters of Empathy and Nuclear Colonialism: Voices Marked in Marshallese Stories, Songs, and Illustrations,” in Music and Politics (Special Edition on Contemplating Voice). J. Martin Daughtry and Clara Latham, eds., X.2, Summer 2016.


    “Si Se Puede!: Chicas Rockeras and Punk Music Education in South East Los Angeles. ” Punk & Post-Punk.  5.1 (2016): 45–65. 


    “Listening in Circles: Punk Pedagogy and the Decline of Western Music Education.” Punk & Post-Punk. 4.2&3 (2016): 141–158. 


    “Vocal Ability and Musical Performances of Nuclear Damages in the Marshall Islands. in The Oxford Handbook of Music and Disability Studies. Blake Howe, Stephanie Jensen-Moulton, Neil Lerner, and Joseph Straus, eds. Oxford University Press, 2015: 476–496. 

    "Marshallese Cultural Diplomacy in Arkansas." American Quarterly, 67.3 (Sept. 2015): 781-812.

    “‘The Young Ladies Are Here’: Marshallese Transgender Performance and Processes of Transformation.” Women and Music, 19 (September 2015): 95-107.


    “Auditory Snapshots from the Edges of Europe.” Michael Beckerman (senior author), Petra Gelbart, Kevin Karnes, et al. Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 22 (2012): 199-221.


    "'Between Life and Death': Mobility, War, and Marshallese Women's Stories of Survival." Women and Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture, 16 (2012):23-56.

    "A 'Voice to Sing': Rongelapese Musical Activism and the Production of Nuclear Knowledge." Music & Politics, VI.1 (Winter 2012): 1-21.

    Invited Scholarly Presentations (2017)


    “TBD—Ecomusicology Panel with Mitchell Morris. Distinguished Lecture Series, Musicology Department UCLA, Fall 2017.

    "Studying Sound or Studying Music?” Tim Rice Symposium, (panel chair and final respondent), Spring 2017.


    “Don’t Call It a Comeback”/Girl Anachronism live performance. UCLA Arts Encounters. Meryl Friedman, Director of Education at Center for the Art of Performance, Spring 2017.


    “The Marshall Islands, Nuclear Issues” Native American Forum on Nuclear Issues. University of Nevada Las Vegas, Boyd School of Law, Spring 2017.


    “No Future without Memory: A Nuclear Repertoire and Reproduction of the Senses.” Valente Lecture Series, UC Davis, Spring 2017.


    “Sí, Se Puede: Chicas Rockeras SELA, Punk, and Music Education in Los Angeles,” Music of Los Angeles. (Professor Shana Lorenz). Occidental College, Spring 2017


    Healing the Brain though Music and Mindfulness. UCLA Neuroscience Undergraduate Society (NUS). Gonda Research Building, UCLA, Winter 2017


    “Listening to Cold War Decay: Sound Matters of Atomic Radiation” in Material Culture and Cold War Panel (AHA sponsored), American Historical Association Annual Meeting, Winter 2017



    UCLA's "Professor of Punk," UCLA Newsroom  (video)

    NPR Interview: Marshallese Atomic Songs

    SEM 2014 Presidential Roundtable (2:42:17)

    Homemade News story: Nuclear Resonance in the Marshall Islands

    "Punk Professor," UCLA Magazine



    ​The following courses, designed by Jessica - syllabi available on request - have a strong emphasis on encouraging students to express themselves in various ways, drawing on integrative approaches to learning music analysis, critical thinking, and creative practice. ​​​

    Undergraduate Courses

    • "Music, Medicine, Culture" - service learning seminar, comp lit. and music history

    • "Punk: Music, History, Sub/culture" - undergraduate general education course, meets diversity requirement


    Graduate Seminars

    • "Analyzing Silence"

    • "Rock Music: Critical and Analytic Approaches"

    Fiat Lux (Freshman Seminars)

    • California Punk, 1975-1995

    • Voices of Climate Change

    • Listening in Our Era: Nuclear Power and Climate Change

    • Punk U (Centennial Initiative)

    Dubbed UCLA's Professor of Punk, Jessica A. Schwartz was featured in a UCLA Magazine article.


    Jessica's music ranges from punk, noise and rock performance to new music ensemble and experimental composition. Her work has been performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble, KNM Berlin, and Timetable Percussion. Her compositions draw from and integrate conceptual, sound-based, and critical theories. She is currently developing a large-scale installation piece called, "I am the system," based on her interests in data sonification and (magnetic) resonance imaging, the medical humanities, and neoliberal global health discourses. 


    Jessica also plays lead guitar for the LA-based, noise-punk band, Girl Anachronism. They are currently working on their debut album, which will be released by DTS Records. Jessica has played guitar with bands such as LA punk band, Trap Girl, Lady Bits, a NYC-based riot grrrl band, and Rulers, a dystopian surf-punk band.


    Contact Jessica

    © Jessica A. Schwartz