2016 Hellman Graduate Awardee
1st Year PhD in Music
Originally from Bangkok, Thailand, Parkorn Wangpaiboonkit is a first year student in the Department of Music, where he plans to focus his research on nineteenth-century opera. Prior to Berkeley, Parkorn completed his BA in Comparative Literature at Oberlin College, focusing on the intersection of literature and opera. He is excited to continue his work in a slight shift of discipline into Historical Musicology.
Parkorn’s research considers realism in opera and music drama as a means of inventing racial difference across the colonial modern. His work diagnoses the practice of dramatizing and musicalizing another/an Other’s ethnicity as an imperial tool for race-making in the colonial liminal, historicizing the discourse on race and opera away from contemporary identity politics. His current project focuses on Western art practices in nineteenth-century Siam, and examines how the selective emulation and criticism of Italian opera at the Siamese court served as a discursive site for negotiating ethnological imperialism.
Parkorn’s broader interests in opera studies include the performance of race and racialization, operatic masculinities and queer opera culture, new and old technologies of operatic sound reproduction, and colonial histories of Western opera. His article “Excavating operatic masculinity” is forthcoming with Cambridge Opera Journal.
In his free time, Parkorn is an avid baker and baking science enthusiast, and has immensely enjoyed teaching classes in baking and cake decorating at his undergraduate institution.
“I am grateful to the Hellman Fellows Program for its support as I begin my time at UC Berkeley. Receiving the Graduate Award this early in my course of study not only allows me to afford undivided attention to my research and studies, but also gives me a substantial boost of encouragement that my work is being valued.”