Research Profile

Marian Caulfield


In 2017 Marian was awarded the CACSS Excellence Scholarship for a PhD research project, which she is currently in the process of writing up after a period of fieldwork and ethnographic research in both Ireland and Finland.

Marian completed an MA in Contemporary Religion in 2014 (funded by the CACSS Excellence Scholarship) and was awarded a 2:1 grade 

Marian completed her BA Music at University College Cork in 2012 for which she was awarded 1st class honors. On this course Marian developed an interest in Experimental Music and Ethnomusicology and also took modules in 'Study of Religions'. 

Marian Currently is employed at The School of Applied Social Sciences at UCC as an Executive Assistant to the School Graduate Studies Committee and the BSocSc Youth and Community programme

Research Interests

Marian is drawn to the area of 'sound' as a 'well-being' tool and her PhD project examines the budding efforts of those who are 're-imagining' the practice of sounding grief together, through improvised cry/singing otherwise known as 'lament'. 

Marian has carried out fieldwork in both Ireland and Finland with groups who re-imagine older lament traditions to fit modern purposes. She particularly focuses on the recent efforts being made to re-imagine Irish lament 'keening' (or 'caoine' in the Irish language). Marian examines the reported therapeutic effects of this non-musical vocality, brought forth by the body from deep within, and how it is considered as a tool for healing bodily and mental tensions.  

Marian utilizes fieldwork and ethnographic methodologies to analyze her participants reactions to 'sounding' together in somewhat 'risky' ways (such as crying and wailing). In these settings, people tend to open up to witness with each other, their insecurities, fears and traumas.  

Marian is very interested in the challenges that these revival groups face when attempting to re-invent a lost or dying tradition to be repurposed in the modern world. 

Marian has previously carried out a fieldwork project during her Masters studies in 2014 with experimental musicians in Ireland in search of the ‘spirituality’ which appeared to initially inspire many of the experimental musical luminaries of the sixties and seventies such as Stockhausen, La Monte Young, John Cage and Terry Riley.

Marian's findings from this project have been published.  


Peer Reviewed Journals

(2014)'A Rethinking of Religiosity through Sound: Meaning, Identity and Community Located within the Ineffable Sound of an Experimental Music Scene'
Marian Caulfield (2014) 'A Rethinking of Religiosity through Sound: Meaning, Identity and Community Located within the Ineffable Sound of an Experimental Music Scene'. Diskus, 16 (1):96-106   [Details]

Professional Activities

Honours and Awards

 YearTitleAwarding Body
2017UCC CACSS Excellence Scholarship (PhD) CACSS
2012UCC CACSS Excellence Scholarship (Masters) CACSS

Professional Associations

 AssociationFunctionFrom / To
Irish Society for the Academic Study of Religion member30-JUN-20 / 15-SEP-20


 EmployerPositionFrom / To
UCC Executive Assistant01-SEP-22 / 01-DEC-24
UCC Academic Skills Coach (Skills Centre)01-AUG-16 / 30-APR-22
UCC, Study of Religions Department, Assistant Lecturer01-SEP-13 / 30-APR-22
UCC, Study of Religions Department Course Coordinator31-MAY-16 / 30-MAY-18


2014UCC MA (Study of Religions Departement)Contemporary Religions
2008Cork Academy of Music ABRSM Level 5Music Theory
2007UCC Certificate of ArtsMusic Studies
2007Cork Academy of Music ABRSM Level 3Music Theroy
2018UCC (CIRTL) CPD CertFoundation in Tutor Development
2009Cork Academy of Music Fetac level 6Train the Trainer
2012UCC BAMusic and Study of Religions

Other Activities


2023 May 15–17, 2023
International Conference of the Lament Tradition, Helsinki, Finland.
Paper: Crying together: mother and child resonance and a sense of ‘belonging’ found in modern Irish laments

2021 October 22nd, Ways Of Hearing, Ways Of Knowing: Listening For The Sounds Of Religion, Department of Theological Studies, St. Louis University, USA.   
Paper: Dangerous vibrations: Exploring sonic and vibrational healing through the contemporary practice of ritual lament.

2019, September 27th – 28th Annual Conference of the Anthropological Association of Ireland, Maynooth University, Ireland.
Paper: Re-Imagining 'keening' in contemporary Ireland: an Irish-Finnish collaboration in lament revival.

2019  June 25 to June 29 17th Annual Conference of the European Association for the Study of Religions (EASR), Tartu, Estonia.
Topic: “Religion – Continuations and Disruptions”
Paper: Re-Imagining 'Keening' (lament): Re-purposing an old oral tradition for use in the modern world from the perspective of employing ‘sound studies’ theoretical models.

2018 April 16th -17th Re-Imagining ‘Keening’ Workshop and Seminar- University College Cork, Ireland. (Organizer) A two-day event comprising of a one day lament composition workshop led by Finnish lament specialist Tuomas Rounakari and a second day of talks, featuring eminent scholars in the field of Irish and Finnish lament studies. 

2017  November 15th -16th  Critical perspectives on and beyond “change” in mental health services’, University College Cork, Ireland.
Paper: ‘I Cried the Victim Out of Myself’: A Re-imagination of Irish tradition of lament (‘Keening’) as a therapeutic tool for overcoming stress, loss and trauma, based on a Finnish lament revival model’.

2016, June 16th-17th Fifth Annual Conference – Religion and Revolution, University College Cork, Ireland.
Panel: 'Gender and Identity Politics'
Paper: 'The Causes and Consequences of the Death of the “Caoineadh na Marbh”: An Examination of the Loss of Women’s Lament in Ireland During the Formation of the New Irish State'.

2015, Aug 23rd -29th XXI IAHR World Congress in Erfurt, Germany.
Paper 1: ‘Accousmatic Listening: Philosophical Investigations of Sound and Technology within the Study of Religion'.
Paper 2: ‘Rupturing Epistemologies through aural investigations, in the Study of Religions’

2013, September, 3rd -6th European Association of Study of Religions (EASR), Liverpool Hope University, Liverpool.
Paper: ‘Finding meaning and identity in post-Catholic Ireland: Sonic ‘being’ and gendered social structures in an experimental music ‘scene’’  

Teaching Activities

Teaching Interests

Teaching Undergraduate and Post-Graduate student to improve their academic skills such as:
Reflective Writing
Cultures of Writing 
Unpacking the Question
Building and Argument
How to Write an Essay 
Presentation Skills
Assignment Planning and Structure

Delivery weekly tutorials to undergraduate students in the 'study of religions' covering:

Indigenous religions
Chinese and Japanese religions, 

Tutoring on second and third-year courses in :

Indigenous Religions
Hinduism and religions of India and South Asia’
Christianities in Global Age

Examining theories and methodologies in: 

Anthropology, Sociology, Gender, Authority, Ritual, Terminology, Modernity, Identity, Colonialism, Asceticism, Orality/Literacy, Eco-Cosmology, Ancestor Worship

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Study of Religions Department

Staidéar Reiligiún

Room 2.22, O'Rahilly Building, University College Cork, College Road, Cork, T12 ND89