Academic profile

Her [Talbot’s] songs are raw and immersive, suggesting paradoxically that as a performer and academic she has worked hard to think her way back to unbidden instinct.

From the Margins

I’ve actually come to think of it as all one continuous song that just pours out of him.

Lance Leadbetter, of Dust to Digital, in conversation w/ Sean O’Hagan on Lonnie Holley, The Guardian, May 2 2022.

[A]rt subverts the dominant consciousness, the ordinary experience” (p. ix)

Herbert Marcuse, The Aesthetic Dimension (1978)

…together we record something and present it with minimal modification.  If it’s good enough, it will be taken like a tincture by the listener…Clarinet solos aren’t over. Nor is recording without a click…

Will Oldham, cited in Simonini (2021).
PhD, Working title:
Portfolio of Compositions: Body Down (Live), Blue Valentine, and Space Junk.

Samantha is a performance practice-based doctoral candidate in Music at the University of Glasgow pioneering an aesthetic onto-epistemology of spontaneous song/writing and its formal, methodological and conceptual entanglements, with Dr Matt Brennan, Dr Iain Findlay Walsh, and Dr Louise Harris. In other words, she is asking why she makes and performs songs – and live albums and their expanded forms – in the way she does, and what it has to do with the world. She explores the impulses and recurring themes which surface in the practice, and in the writing about the practice, and comparable practices.

“On Texture”, a reading of a fragment for a chapter, 2022.

Samantha is currently a Lecturer in Music at Perth College, University of the Highlands and Islands. She was recently a Guest Lecturer on the MSc Popular Music Industries course at the University of Glasgow, and a GTA on Genders across the School of Culture and Creativity, MSc Popular Music Research, Listening in Culture, and on Aesthetics & Philosophy of Music. She was Lecturer in English for the Creative Disciplines at The Glasgow School of Art in 2020-2021.

She has held teaching and research positions at the University of Glasgow (2019/20), University of Bristol (2019), University for the Creative Arts (2014-18), The University of Bath (2011) (Teaching Fellow), The University of Sheffield (Associate Lecturer), Nottingham Trent University (2011) and The University of Nottingham (2008-10). In 2009, she was sponsored by the University of Nottingham to undertake a PGCTEAP. She gained a CELTA from the University of Cambridge in 2005. From 2015-16, she was Lecturer in Creative Writing at University for the Creative Arts, during which she was awarded Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy in 2017 for her significant role in effecting change at the university via papers on “Neoliberalism, Practitioner Agency, and EAP” and “Creative Writing in the Contemporary Arts University”.

Forthcoming conferences, papers, performances.

  • “Music Video, Body & Space”. The University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway, New Perspectives in Popular Music Research: Changes and Turmoil, on 1-2/06/2022.
  • “Song Worlds: Spontaneity, Intimacy, Immersion. Music video from Glencoe.” Innovation in Music, KMH Royal College of Music, Stockholm, Sweden, 17-19/06/2022.
  • “Where Do I Go in a Song like San Bernardino?” IASPM Journal Practice Research Special Issue to be published early 2023.
  • “Some Notes on Fire: Performing desire and its discontents.” A performance paper. Autotheory. Thinking through Self, Body, Practice, conference, Glasgow, Oct, 2021, delegate and member of the organising committee.
  • “Burning Trees, Rivers, and John Berger on Song”. The Songwriting Studies Journal #2 on Narrative (peer reviewed, forthcoming).
Abstract 1 - “Blue Valentine”: music video, body and space. The University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway, the interdisciplinary conference "New Perspectives in Popular Music Research: Changes and Turmoil" on 1-2 June 2022.

It is always encouraging to find scholars who write on love, for this is, I think, what we should all be writing on, or for. In Outlaw Culture: Resisting Representations (1994) bell hooks (1952-2021) wrote: ‘The moment we choose to love we begin to move towards freedom, to act in ways that liberate ourselves and others.’ Love is a form of conversion. In Chronicles, Volume One (2004: 51), Bob Dylan reckons that songwriting which is a case of ‘convert[ing] something’. But what gets converted? How and why?    
This 15-minute presentation is a screening of my new music video “Blue Valentine” – track 8 on my 2019 studio album Body Down (Live) and a short autoethnographic reading. I advocate ‘passionate scholarship’ and performative and poetic autoethnography as a timely antidote to the harm of systemic power structures. The music video was made in collaboration with, and directed by Glasgow-based filmmaker, Simone Smith. I deploy a gendered lens to critique the use of body and space in the video, in which I also perform, in character, revealing a shifting physical and emotional hinterland. The video occupies a liminal space between music video and film. In its shift from dream to reality, it uncovers hidden truths and produces song worlds which embody new creative possibilities and modes of presentation in popular music materialities. 

Abstract 2 - Song Worlds: Spontaneity, Intimacy and Immersion. Music Video from Glencoe.
Innovation in Music Conference 2022. KMH Royal College of Music in Stockholm. 17-19/06/2022. 

Innovation in Music Conference 2022. KMH Royal College of Music in Stockholm. 17-19/06/2022. This practice-based presentation demonstrates the making of the music video "Blue Valentine”. This is an all- female collaborative practice between a two-women crew: English singer-songwriter, Sam Lou Talbot, and Scottish filmmaker and BAFTA New Talent Awardee, Simone Smith, who are both based in Glasgow, Scotland. The video is an artefact of expanded form and a demonstration of nomadic creative practice in the current moment, and of popular music materialities of journeying and travel. The song is track 8 off of my 2021 release, Body Down (Live), and it was composed in the moment of production. I therefore call it a 'spontaneous song'. The academic/artist Gustav Thomas (2019: 69) similarly distinguishes ‘Wild Pop’ from improvisation in its ‘commitment to make the final version in the moment of its inception; to make definitive performative statements without preconception, planning or rehearsal’. In this way, spontaneous songs are, as with albums in general, a 'confrontation with the world’ (Grubbs, 2014: xi). I begin with a screening of the video which features the presence of the artist/researcher (myself) throughout, inhabiting song, sonic, and visual worlds, both seen and unseen. I uncover the process of shooting the video, highlighting its success in embodying an intimate collaboration which sheds light upon the shifting female psyche. The original song was recorded at St. Mary’s Space, Scotland, in April, 2021. It then underwent a remix, to include strings, by Lithuanian composer, Dr Rūta Vitkauskaitė. It has since been transformed into an ambiguous and powerful piece of visual storytelling, featuring three different locations: the wilds of Glen Coe, bathroom, and an American-themed diner. I will read a short commentary to accompany the screening, which illuminates our methods and working processes, and sheds light upon themes of resistance and transformation.

Abstract 3 - Some Notes on Fire: Performing desire and its discontents. Autotheory: Thinking through Self, Body and Practice, University of Glasgow, 24/10/2022.

In Outlaw Culture: Resisting Representations (1994) the late scholar and activist bell hooks (1952-2021) wrote: ‘The moment we choose to love we begin to move towards freedom, to act in ways that liberate ourselves and others.’ (p. 298). In December 2021, on Googling the passing of bell hooks, I sat down and wrote: ‘It is always encouraging to find scholars who write on love, for this is, I think, what we should all be writing on, or for.’ 

In the audio text, Some Notes on Fire, I attempt to perform desire by taking words through the body, to get to know them. In my practice-based research into spontaneous song/writing and making records, I have turned to fire to start an inquiry into how songs have been made, and how I make songs, which can be a case of ‘convert[ing] something’ (Dylan, 2004: 51). But if so, what gets converted? How, and why? And in terms of autotheory, how does the ‘soul’ Gloria Anzaldua’s (2009) ‘autohistoria’ speaks of, get bared? 

This 20-minute performance opens with a screening of the official music video for the album Body Down (Live) (2021): ‘eight intimate sketches on desire and its discontents performed with remarkable emotional reach; unswerving, magnetic music from the hidden wildness of human reality.’ (From the Margins, 2021). The music video “Blue Valentine (String Reprise)” (3.32 mins.) feat. composer Dr. Rūta Vitkauskaitė on violin was directed in the wilds of Glencoe by Scottish filmmaker and BAFTA New Talent Awardee, Simone Smith. 

As protagonist / songwriter / researcher, I will then perform a live reading of the text Some Notes on Fire which illuminates the practice. Both the title of the song and text, interlude at the American-themed diner, and road trip genre, draw upon the work of the iconic American filmmaker and visionary, David Lynch, in its thirst for transformations, or overlaps, between dream and reality.


  • 2022, Lecturer in Music, Perth College, University of the Highlands and Islands, teaching across HNC, Degree and Master’s programmes in Music, Popular Music, Creative Practice Dissertations, and Music Business.
  • Guest Lecturer MSc Popular Music Industries on Popular Music Research, October 18 2021, “Who listens to popular music?” Lecture and seminar.
  • 2021, GTA Genders, an interdisciplinary module teaching across the School of Culture and Creativity, University of Glasgow
  • 2020-2021, Pre-Masters Lecturer in Academic Writing for the Creative Disciplines, The Glasgow School of Art
  • 2020-21, GTA Aesthetics and Philosophy of Music, University of Glasgow.
  • 2019/2020, Lecturer in English for Academic Purposes, University of Glasgow
  • 2018, Lecturer in English for Academic Purposes, University of Bristol
  • 2015-16, Lecturer in Creative Writing, University for the Creative Arts
  • 2014–18, EAP Lecturer, University for the Creative Arts
  • 2013, Associate Lecturer, University of Sheffield/Academic Advisor Sheffield International College
  • 2012, EAP Lecturer, INTO University of East Anglia, London
  • 2011, Teaching Fellow, The University of Bath
  • 2010-11, Sessional Lecturer, Nottingham Trent University
  • 2008-10, EAP Lecturer/English Language Tutor, The University of Nottingham

Research grants awarded, 2020/22

  • December 2021 and February 2021. School Research Committee, the University of Glasgow. Album production fees – essential research output.
  • February 2021. Residential recording retreat (4 days), St. Mary’s Space, Scotland, funded by College of Arts, University of Glasgow.
  • September 2021. “Spontaneity, Immersion and Intimacy: Music Video from Glencoe”. Collaborative RSA award funded by the College of Arts, University of Glasgow directed by BAFTA New Talent winner and Scottish filmmaker Simone Smith.
  • May 2021. UKRI funded 5 month doctoral extension stipend, the College of Arts, University of Glasgow (October 2022-February 2023).

Past conferences/talks/events

…ah yes I remember your presentation at Spheres was it, I’d never seen anything like that before, it was inspiring.

Alastair White, composer/academic
Past Abstracts - On Not Knowing: Waterfalls, Rituals and Resonances.

The way an artist uses voice for emotional resonance is a question of identity (Berköz 2012; James, 1995; MacDonald, Hargreaves & Miel, 2016). Improvising words, and non-words, yield vulnerabilities which the singer may not otherwise be able to access (Baler, Baker & Tamplin et al.; Beech, 2014). Singing as a ritual (Phelan, 2017) thus affords expression, intensity and catharsis (Anderson, 2000; Ellis & Bochnern, 2000; May, 2014). In the American singer-songwriter and composer Julia Holter’s epic 90 minute album Aviary (2018), her voice rises and builds in language, babble, and the liminal spaces in between, before submitting to its vocal environment (Geffem, 2018). Berköz (2010; 2012) has questioned such identity in female vocal composition through her innovative application of psychoanalytic French feminist theory to a textual analysis of the lyrics of the American singer-songwriters Laura Nyro and Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush, and Tori Amos, apropos Julia Kristeva’s ‘Semiotics’, positing that the symbolic functions to offer the female artist creative control over her poetic and lyrical world. As an artist who negotiates “not knowing”, the researcher-practitioner shares a tendancy with Holter to explore the liminal space between language (lyric) and sound (babble), which goes beyond the semantic into the unconscious realm. This live performance is a vocal ritual (Phelan, 2017) inspired by how journeys through ecological environments can induce internal shifts (Holter, 2016; Rodriguez, 2015). The audio-visual composition incorporates a field-recording of a natural waterfall in the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, Scotland, as a site to negotiate the impulses of the voice as it interacts with the footage in real-time. The composition extends emerging discourses into autoethnographic methods in practice-research in Music (Bartleet and Ellis, 2009; Gouzouasis, 2008; Harrison, 2016; Wiley, 2019), as well as research on place via recording in unusual settings (Elliot, 2010; Flattery, 2019; Hartwig, 2014).
  • 18 June 202). 2.30pm. The Autoethnography or Composition and the Composition of Autoethnography. Online conference, University of Glasgow, conference paper, re-performed and published online at: ‘Sam Lou Uncased: An Autoethnography of a Songwriting Podcast’.
  • August 2021. The Edinburgh Fringe Festival Online. Short film: ‘Rewilding’, (3.17 mins.).
  • 2020-. GIOdynamics, Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra, monthly improvisation gigs, NICE & SLEAZY, Glasgow/online.


Sam Lou Uncased (2019-) is one of the first songwriting podcasts in the public domain to bridge doctoral research practice-based research, ethnography, and critical autoethnography. Participants consented to the interview in accordance with research ethics and protocol of the College of Arts, University of Glasgow. In the aim of open-access and transparency, this research has been published as an audible body of work in progress with the aim of building community.

Video of a paper, published on the Songwriting Studies blog, 2021

Autotheory: Thinking through Self, Body and Practice. Conference.

To be held at the University fo Glasgow/Glasgow Women’s Library, October, 2022.

I am on the organising committee of a unique hybrid conference on the emerging field of Autotheory to be based at the University of Glasgow and Glasgow Women’s Library, and online, in October 2022. Autotheory: Thinking through Self, Body and Practice.

Text: Dzenana Vucic.

In 2015, the term ‘autotheory’ rose to prominence with the publication of Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts, eliciting a flurry of critical and academic attention. Yet the practice of blending self-representation with philosophical and theoretical engagements has a long history and rhizomatic roots. Notably, the practice has been mobilised and advanced through the work of Women of Colour and LGBTQ+ feminist writers and thinkers, for example Audre Lord, bell hooks, Cherríe Moraga, Christina Sharpe, Gloria Anzaldúa, and Theresa Hak Kyung Cha. Comparable practices have arisen across time and place, across traditions of memoir and autobiographic writing, personal essay, creative nonfiction, criticism, autoethnography, activism, philosophy and critical theory, as well as in performance, visual art and film. While the practice has been most closely associated with literature, we are interested in exploring its possibilities beyond. Artists like Adrian Piper and Félix González-Torres push the boundaries of the term beyond the literary sphere and we especially encourage submissions that do the same.

We use ‘autotheory’ not to limit the possibilities of engagement, but rather to pay homage to the thinkers who have thought alongside it over the years; thinkers like Gloria Anzaldúa, who’s  ‘autohistoria’ and ‘autohistoria-teoría’ are foundational blocks for autotheory as it is understood today. Anzaldua used ‘autohistoria’ to describe art that ‘depicts both the soul of the artist and the soul of the pueblo… [which] goes beyond the traditional self-portrait or autobiography; in telling the writer/artist’s personal story, it also includes the artist’s cultural history.’ In 2009, she coined ‘autohistoria-teoría’ to describe a ‘personal essay that theorizes’. 

The cognate ‘autotheory’ was coined by Stacey Young in 1997 to describe feminist ‘autotheoretical texts’ such as This Bridge Called My Back (ed. Gloria Anzaldúa and Cherríe Moraga) as ‘counter-discourses’ and ‘the embodiment of a discursive type of political action, which de-centers the hegemonic subject of feminism’. Later, Mieke Bal described the practice as a ‘ongoing, spiralling form of analysis-theory dialectic’ and more recently still, Lauren Fournier has referred to autotheory as a means of using autobiography, first person and other self-imaging processes to perform, enact, iterate, subvert and instantiate the hegemonic discourse of theory and philosophy.

The term, then, is nebulous and porous, open to multiple iterations and possibilities. We want to explore them.  

Autotheory: Thinking through Self, Body, Practice will be held over two days at the University of Glasgow and online and will explore autotheory across practices, mediums, disciplines, places and times. We seek contributions from activists, artists, critics, curators, filmmakers, musicians, performers, scholars, writers, and anyone whose work engages with autotheory or with the self and theory/philosophy, working in any medium. We are interested in papers, performances, workshops,  and cross-modal events which explore the history and/or future of autotheory; autotheory as decolonial and feminist practice; the assumptions and implications underlying the mode; practices of autotheory; autotheoretical works and works which might be autotheory; and anything else that touches on the personal as theoretical. Autotheoretical approaches are encouraged. Please also send us your autotheoretical poems, songs, artworks, fragments and uncategorizable miscellanea--we hope to provide space for autotheoretical works themselves.

If you have any queries, or would like to attend the conference, please email us at:

The original submission was a 20,000 word nomadic text punctuated with original photographs taken by the author in various European locations formatted as collages. On occasion, in the reading, these are shown to the viewer. Lengthy paragraphs on creative practice theory, methods and methodology are either read aloud or cut in the moment at the author’s discretion. The submission opens with an appraisal of the French filmmaker Agnes Varda’s feminist masterpiece Vagabond (1985) in which the viewer finds protagonist Mona seeking distraction and comfort as she wanders homeless through the Languedoc-Roussillon wine country in winter. It then segues into another heightened experience, that of Werner Herzog’s visionary, if not hallucinatory, flickered prose located in his pilgrimage on foot from Munich to a Parisian hospital bed in winter to ‘save the life’ of his friend the German filmmaker Lotte Eisner, Of Walking in Ice (1974)…
APR, Year 1 text submission – performing autoethnography, a reading.
Photo by the author, Scottish Highlands, 2021
Photo by the author, Scottish Highlands, 2021
Still by Simone Smith
Love Letter to My Thesis - February 14 2022.

When I read about this competition, my first thought was: What planet are they on?! The only letter I’d be sending right now is a poison-pen letter! But here I am. I don’t even know your name. I haven’t even given you a title, for goodness’s sake! Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried, many times but I’ve had to ditch them all as none of them would do! I don’t even know what it is about you, something Jeff Buckley-ish. Every time the camera pans closer, you tilt your head in the other direction. Drowning in a spontaneous after-tea swim in the Mississippi River, fully clothed. I’ve been told I’m too close, wood for the trees and all. I’d invite you around. Perhaps you could work on your communication skills. I’m not a mind reader, you know. I take a walk. Things work better in rhythm, catch myself in a puddle. Wouldn’t mind so much if I didn’t get those funny looks. They assume I’m talking into a headset, you see, like any normal person would be. What did Freud have to say on that? Part of the problem is that when we write, we’re told to leave it out, the heart, I mean. We should exercise rigour, and caution. There should be verifiability, reliability, and repeatability (which aren’t exactly your strong points, let’s face it). Moreover, what is your SOCK? You might just need to spell it out.


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