Elaine studied for a BA in music at Maynooth University in Ireland, and then moved to Queen's University Belfast, where she completed an MA in Twentieth-Century Music and subsequently a PhD with a dissertation on Brahms's involvement with the early music revival.
Her research focuses on the intersections between music, politics, culture, and intellectual history in nineteenth and twentieth-century Germany. She is particularly interested in the German Democratic Republic, and has published extensively on the relationship between culture and politics in the state. Her current research explores the global contexts of the GDR. She is working on a book project that explores how the GDR used music to negotiate relations with the postcolonial world. She is author of Composing the Canon in the German Democratic Republic: Narratives of Nineteenth-Century Music (Oxford University Press, 2014), editor together with Amy Wlodarski of Art Outside the Lines: New Perspectives on GDR Art Culture (Rodopi, 2011), and editor with Derek B. Scott and Markus Mantere of Confronting the National in the Musical Past (Routledge, 2018). She has published articles in venues such as the Journal of the American Musicological Society, Opera Quarterly, Kritika, Nineteenth-Century Music, Twentieth-Century Music, and Music & Letters.
Elaine is co-editor of the Journal of Musicology and a vice president of the Royal Musical Association (2019-23). She was head of the Reid School of Music from 2017-20, and will start a three-year Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship in 2021 to work on a project entitled: “Musical Diplomacy at the Peripheries: East Germany and the Postcolonial World.”
Elaine contributes teaching to both the BMus and the MMus in Musicology.
My research interests span a number of broad themes including cultural diplomacy, global socialism, canon reception, music historiography, opera production, and Marxist aesthetics, many of which coalesce in my work on the German Democratic Republic. I have published extensively on the construction and legacy of the GDR's aesthetic culture, and am currently working on the global contexts of the state.