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Professor Isabella van Elferen

School Head of Department


I am Professor of Music, Head of Department of Performing Arts, and Director of the Visconti Studio.

I publish on music philosophy, Gothic theory and subcultures, film and TV music, video game music, and baroque sacred music. My books are Gothic Music: The Sounds of the Uncanny (2012), Mystical Love in the German Baroque: Theology - Poetry - Music (2009), Nostalgia or Perversion? Gothic Rewriting from the Eighteenth Century until the Present Day (ed. 2007), and Goth Music: From Sound to Subculture (with Jeffrey Weinstock, 2015).  Sounds of the Uncanny won the Alan Lloyd Smith prize for best book in Gothic Criticism 2011-2013. I am currently finalising a monograph on timbre, Timbrality: Aesthetics of Vibration.

I am First Vice-President of the International Association of the Fantastic in the Arts, editor for The Soundtrack, member of the advisory board of Horror Studies and Aeternum, and guest editor for Journal for the Fantastic in the Arts (2013), Horror Studies (2016) and Contemporary Music Review (2017). I was a member of the AHRC funded network Music-based Games, Creativity and Music Education and member of the Advisory Panel of the EC-funded project Europeana Sound led by the British Library.  

I supervise PhD students on a variety of topicsGoth and psychedelic music (Claire Bannister), synthetic voices and sound theory (Malte Kobel), silence in film (Sven Raeymaekers), Chiptune fan cultures (George Reid), musical identities and jazz (Meredith White).  

Areas of specialism

  • Musicology
  • Music philosophy
  • Gothic criticism and subculture
  • Horror, science fiction, fantasy, weird
  • Film, television, game music
  • German baroque music


  • PhD Musicology, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
  • Senior qualifications academic teaching and research, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

Professional membership

2016-               Elected First Vice-President of the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts (annual conference, ca. 500 delegates)

2014-2017       Member Advisory Panel of EC-funded project Europeana Sound led by British Library

2013-15          Member AHRC-funded network Music-based Games, Creativity and Music Education, University of Kent

2013-               Member computer game research group Dark Play: Difficult Content in Playful Environments (Copenhagen, DK/Tampere, FI/Utrecht, NL).

2012-               Division Head "Visual and Performance Arts and Audiences" of the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts

2011-13           Project History of Game Music with Music Institute Multimedia Amsterdam (game composers, designers, students and researchers).

2011-               Member Centre for the Research of Games and Play (GAP), Utrecht

2007-10          Member AHRC-funded research group Global Gothic, Stirling University

2007-              Member International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts (IAFA)

2007-2009      Member advisory board Royal Society for Dutch Musicology (KVNM)

2005-              Member International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM)

2004-              Member International Gothic Association (IGA)

2003-2006      Symposium committee Royal Society for Dutch Musicology (KVNM)

Research student supervision


Number of items: 59.


van Elferen, Isabella (2018) Dark timbre : the aesthetics of tone colour in Goth music. Popular Music, 37(1), pp. 22-39. ISSN (print) 0261-1430

Van Elferen, Isabella (2017) Agency, aporia, approaches : how does musicology solve a problem like timbre? Contemporary Music Review, 36(6), pp. 483-487. ISSN (print) 0749-4467

Van Elferen, Isabella (2017) Drastic allure : timbre between the sublime and the grain. Contemporary Music Review, 36(6), pp. 614-632. ISSN (print) 0749-4467

Van Elferen, Isabella (2016) Sonic Horror. Horror Studies, 7(2), pp. 165-172. ISSN (print) 2040-3275

Van Elferen, Isabella (2016) Sonic monstrosity. Horror Studies, 7(2), pp. 307-318. ISSN (print) 2040-3275

van Elferen, Isabella and Raeymaekers, Sven (2015) Silent dark : the orders of silence. Journal for Cultural Research, 19(3), pp. 262-273. ISSN (print) 1479-7585

van Elferen, Isabella (2013) Fantastische musik: monumentale soundtracks, magische instrumente, musikalische liminalität [Fantasy music: epic soundtracks, magical instruments, musical metaphysics]. Zeitschrift für Fantastikforschung [Journal of Research in the Fantastic], 6, pp. 1-24. ISSN (print) 2192-0885

van Elferen, Isabella (2013) Fantasy music: epic soundtracks, magical instruments, musical metaphysics. Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, 24(2), pp. 4-24. ISSN (print) 0897-0521

van Elferen, Isabella (2012) The Gothic Bach. Understanding Bach, 7, pp. 9-20. ISSN (online) 1750-3078

van Elferen, Isabella (2011) ¡Un forastero! Issues of virtuality and diegesis in videogame music. Music and The Moving Image, 4(2), pp. 30-39. ISSN (print) 2167-8464

van Elferen, Isabella (2011) East German Goth and the spectres of Marx. Popular Music, 30(1), pp. 89-103. ISSN (print) 0261-1430

de Vries, Imar and Van Elferen, Isabella (2010) The musical 'Madeleine': communication, performance and identity in musical ringtones. Popular Music and Society, 33(1), pp. 61-74. ISSN (print) 0300-7766

van Elferen, Isabella (2010) Book review of: 'Limits of horror: technology, bodies, gothic' by Fred Botting. Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, 21(1), pp. 132-135. ISSN (print) 0897-0521

van Elferen, Isabella (2010) Music of other spheres: diagonal time and metaphysics in 'Lost'. Science Fiction Film and Television, 3(2), pp. 253-270. ISSN (print) 1754-3770

van Elferen, Isabella (2009) Dances with spectres: theorising the cybergothic. Gothic Studies, 11(1), pp. 99-112. ISSN (print) 1362-7937

van Elferen, Isabella (2009) The hungry soul: communion mystics and physiology in J. S. Bach's 'St. Matthew Passion'. Bach: Journal of the Riemenschneider Bach Institute, 40(1), pp. 35-57. ISSN (print) 0005-3600

van Elferen, Isabella (2007) ‘Ihr Augen weint!’: intersubjective tears in the sentimental concert hall. Understanding Bach, 2, pp. 77-94. ISSN (online) 1750-3078


van Elferen, Isabella and Weinstock, Jeffrey Andrew (2016) Goth music: from sound to subculture. Abingdon, U.K. : Routledge. 162p. (Routledge Studies in Popular Music) ISBN 9780415720045

Van Elferen, Isabella (2012) Gothic music: the sounds of the uncanny. Cardiff, U.K. : University of Wales Press. 229p. (Gothic Literary Studies) ISBN 9780708325124

van Elferen, Isabella (2008) Mystical love in the German baroque: theology, poetry, music. Washington, U.S. : Scarecrow Press. 384p. (Contextual Bach Studies) ISBN 9780810861367

van Elferen, Isabella, ed. (2007) Nostalgia or perversion? Gothic rewriting from the eighteenth century until the present day. Newcastle, U.K. : Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 266p. ISBN 9781847182470

Book Section

van Elferen, Isabella (2017) Goth music and subculture. In: Partridge, Christopher and Moberg, Marcus, (eds.) Bloomsbury handbook of religion and popular music. London, U.K. : Bloomsbury. pp. 316-326. ISBN 9781474237338

van Elferen, Isabella (2016) Analyzing game musical immersion: the ALI model. In: Kamp, Michiel , Summers, Tim and Sweeney, Mark, (eds.) Ludomusicology: approaches to video game music. Sheffield, U.K. : Equinox. pp. 32-52. (Genre, Music and Sound) ISBN 9781781791974

van Elferen, Isabella (2016) Hyper-cacophony : Lovecraft, speculative realism, and sonic materialism. In: Sederholm, Carl H. and Weinstock, Jeffrey Andrew, (eds.) The age of Lovecraft. Univ Of Minnesota Press. ISBN 9780816699254 (In Press)

van Elferen, Isabella (2015) Sonic descents : musical dark play in survival and psychological horror. In: Mortensen, Torill Elvira , Linderoth, Jonas and Brown, Ashley ML, (eds.) The dark side of game play : controversial issues in playful environments. Abingdon, U.K. : Routledge. pp. 226-241. (Routledge Advances in Game Studies, no. 4) ISBN 9781138827288

Blake, Charlie and van Elferen, Isabella (2015) Sonic media and spectral loops. In: Edwards, Justin D., (ed.) Technologies of the Gothic in Literature and Culture: Technogothics. Abingdon, U.K. : Routledge. pp. 60-70. (Routledge Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Literature) ISBN 9781138797192

van Elferen, Isabella (2014) Morrissey's gothic Ireland. In: Fitzgerald, Mark and O'Flynn, John, (eds.) Music and identity in Ireland and beyond. Farnham, U.K. : Ashgate. pp. 165-177. ISBN 9781472409669

Van Elferen, Isabella (2014) Sonic gothic. In: Byron, Glennis and Townshend, Dale, (eds.) The gothic world. Abingdon, U.K. : Routledge. pp. 429-440. ISBN 9780415637442

van Elferen, Isabella (2014) Techno-Gothics of the early-twenty-first century. In: Hogle, Jerrold E., (ed.) The Cambridge companion to the modern Gothic. Cambridge, U.K. : Cambridge University Press. pp. 138-156. (Cambridge companions to literature) ISBN 9781107023567

van Elferen, Isabella (2014) Un/mogliche welten. Wolken, quanten und weird [Im/possible worlds: cloud, quantum and weird]. In: Klenke, Pascale , Muth, Laura , Seibel, Klaudia and Simonis, Annette, (eds.) Writing worlds: welten- und raummodelle der fantastik. Heidelberg, Germany : Universitätsverlag Winter. pp. 51-68. (Beiträge zur Literaturtheorie und Wissenspoetik, no. 1) ISBN 9783825363796

van Elferen, Isabella (2013) Globalgoth? Unlocatedness in the musical home. In: Byron, Glennis, (ed.) Globalgoth. Manchester, U.K. : Manchester University Press. pp. 91-104. (International Gothic) ISBN 9780719087950

van Elferen, Isabella (2013) 'Lost' in music: Heidegger, the glissando and otherness. In: Donnelly, K. J. and Hayward, Philip, (eds.) Music in science fiction: tuned to the future. Abingdon, U.K. : Routledge. pp. 179-196. ISBN 9780415641074

van Elferen, Isabella (2013) Nick Cave and Gothic: ghost stories, fucked organs, spectral liturgy. In: Baker, John, (ed.) The art of Nick Cave: new critical essays. Bristol, U.K. : Intellect. pp. 175-188. ISBN 9781841506272

van Elferen, Isabella (2013) Sonic monstrosity. In: Christensen, Jørgen Riber and Christiansen, Steen Ledet, (eds.) Monstrologi: frygtens manifestationer. Aalborg, Denmark : Aalborg Universitetsforlag. pp. 127-146. (Interdisciplinære kulturstudier, no. 4) ISBN 9788771120363

van Elferen, Isabella (2012) Dream timbre: notes on Lynchian sound design. In: Wierzbecki, James, (ed.) Music, sound and filmmakers: sonic style in cinema. Abingdon, U.K. : Routledge. pp. 175-188. (Routledge music and screen media series) ISBN 9780415898935

van Elferen, Isabella (2012) Spectral liturgy: transgression, ritual and music in Gothic. In: Edwards, Justin D. and Monnet, Agnieszka Soltysik, (eds.) The gothic in contemporary literature and popular culture: pop goth. Abingdon, U.K. : Routledge. pp. 135-147. (Routledge interdisciplinary perspectives on literature, no. 8) ISBN 9780415806763

van Elferen, Isabella (2011) Music that sucks and bloody liturgy: Catholicism in vampire movies. In: Hanson, Regina, (ed.) Roman Catholicism in fantastic film: essays on belief, spectacle, ritual and imagery. Jefferson, U.S. : McFarland. pp. 97-113. ISBN 9780786464746

van Elferen, Isabella (2010) Haunted by a melody: ghosts, transgression, and music in 'Twin Peaks'. In: Blanco, Maria del Pilar and Peeren, Esther, (eds.) Popular ghosts: the haunted spaces of everyday culture. New York, U.S. : Continuum. pp. 282-295. ISBN 9781441163691

van Elferen, Isabella (2010) Recht bitter und doch susse: Lutherse theologie en mystieki leifde in de Matthaus-Passion. In: Dirksen, Pieter, (ed.) De geheimen van de Matthäus-Passion: ambacht en mystiek van een meesterwerk. Amsterdam, Netherlands : Balans. pp. 81-91. ISBN 9789050188999

van Elferen, Isabella (2009) 'And machine created music': cybergothic music and the phantom voices of the technological uncanny. In: van den Boomen, Marianne , Lammes, Sybille , Lehmann, Ann-Sophie , Raessens, Joost and Schäfer, Mirko Tobias, (eds.) Digital media: tracing new media in everyday life and technology. Amsterdam, Netherlands : Amsterdam University Press. pp. 121-132. (MediaMatters) ISBN 9789089640680

van Elferen, Isabella (2007) Introduction: nostalgia and perversion in Gothic rewriting. In: van Elferen, Isabella, (ed.) Nostalgia or perversion? Gothic rewriting from the eighteenth century until the present day. Newcastle, U.K. : Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 1-11. ISBN 9781847182470

van Elferen, Isabella (2005) 'Let tears of blood run down your cheeks' : floods of blood, tears and love in German Baroque devotional literature and music. In: Gadebusch Bondio, Mariacarla, (ed.) Blood in history and blood histories. Florence, Italy : Sismel. pp. 193-214. (Micrologus Library, no. 13) ISBN 8884501628

van Elferen, Isabella (2004) 'Sie creutzigen alle Sinne des Leibes!' : Multimediality, consolatio tragoediae and Lutheran pedagogy in the German baroque passion meditation. In: Hoogvliet, Margriet, (ed.) Multi-media compositions from the Middle Ages to the Early Modern period. Leuven, Belgium : Peeters. pp. 121-144. (Groningen Studies in Cultural Change, no. 9) ISBN 9789042915329

Conference or Workshop Item

Van Elferen, Isabella (2017) Goth music, lifestyle and festivals. In: "Gothic to Goth"; 21 - 22 Oct 2017, London, U.K.. (Unpublished)

van Elferen, Isabella (2017) The paradoxes of timbre : musical epistemology between idealism and materialism. In: MPSG 2017 : 6th Conference of the Royal Musical Association Music and Philosophy Study Group; 13-14 Jul 2017, London, U.K.. (Unpublished)

van Elferen, Isabella (2017) Dark sound : being and timbre in Gothic. In: IGA Mexico 2017 : Gothic Traditions and Departures : 13th Biennial Conference of the International Gothic Association; 18-21 Jul 2017, Cholula, Mexico. (Unpublished)

van Elferen, Isabella (2015) The lure of timbre: paradoxical realism between the sublime and the grain. In: Musical Modernity, the Beautiful and the Sublime; 30 - 31 Oct 2015, Aberdeen, U.K.. (Unpublished)

van Elferen, Isabella (2015) Liminality, Moebius time, and music in David Lynch's Twin Peaks. In: Vom Suchen, Verstehen und Teilen... Wissen in der Fantastik; 24 - 27 Sep 2015, Tubingen, Germany. (Unpublished)

van Elferen, Isabella (2015) The timbre out of space. In: Thirty-Sixth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts : The Scientific Imagination; 18-22 Mar 2015, Orlando, U.S.. (Unpublished)

van Elferen, Isabella (2014) Music, absinth, lace: goth club culture. In: Gothic Study Day; 06 Dec 2014, London, U.K.. (Unpublished)

Blake, Charlie and van Elferen, Isabella (2014) The return of the Uberthing: sonic spectrality, affective engineering & temporal paradox. In: London Conference in Critical Thought (LCCT) 2014; 27-28 Jun 2014, London, U.K.. (Unpublished)

van Elferen, Isabella (2014) Goth timbre: different spaces in music. In: PopLife: the value of popular music in the twenty first century; 06 - 07 Jun 2014, Northampton, U.K.. (Unpublished)

van Elferen, Isabella (2014) Alien music. In: Science Museum Lates; 30 Apr 2014, London U.K.. (Unpublished)

van Elferen, Isabella (2014) Ludomusicology and the new drastic. In: Creativity, Circulation and Copyright: Sonic and Visual Media in the Digital Age; 28-29 Mar 2014, Cambridge, U.K.. (Unpublished)

van Elferen, Isabella (2014) Hyper-cacophony: Lovecraft, speculative realism, and unheard materialism. In: 35th International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts (ICFA); 19-23 Mar 2014, Orlando, U.S.. (Unpublished)

van Elferen, Isabella (2013) Musical dark descents: sonic immersion in psychological horror games. In: Colloquia Lent Term 2013; Jan - Mar 2013, Cambridge, U.K.. (Unpublished)

van Elferen, Isabella (2012) Gothic music: sounds of the uncanny. In: Rethinking Contemporary Gothic: Postgraudate Study Day 2012; 18 May 2012, Lancaster, U.K.. (Unpublished)

van Elferen, Isabella (2012) The ALI model: towards a theory of game musical immersion. In: Ludomusicology: Game Music Research Approaches and Aesthetics; 16 Apr 2012, Oxford, U.K.. (Unpublished)

van Elferen, Isabella (2012) Bloody liturgy: Dracula and music. In: Bram Stoker Centenary Conference; 12-14 Apr 2012, Hull / Whitby, U.K.. (Unpublished)

This list was generated on Sat Aug 24 04:54:44 2019 BST.
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