Madelaine Coffman



Madelaine Coffman is a Ph.D. student and Graduate Teaching Assistant at Wayne State University, whose Applied Communication research interests center on music communication, educational practices, and human health and wellbeing. As part of her Masters of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies at Oregon State University, she developed an original, activity-based method for songwriting education that can be simultaneously taught to participants of any level of musical experience. This curriculum was the foundation of her thesis project, a pilot study investigating the impact of songwriting workshops on the overall quality of life for people with chronic illness, funded by the John C. Erkkila, M.D. Endowment for Health and Human Performance. To field test her method, she partnered with The Corvallis Arts Center and Spring Creek Project to design, direct, and co-teach Crooked Tail Science and Songwriting Camp, an affordable interdisciplinary summer camp for middle school students.

In her previous career, Madelaine trained as an opera singer and performing artist at Mannes College of Music, HB Studios, Portland Actors Conservatory, and Portland State University. After completing her studies in the arts, she pursued her interest in telling new stories through music by founding Heretic Opera and co-writing an original opera, Valentine, with composer Kenneth Froelich. Collaborating with Portland-area arts educators and early career/student opera singers, she produced Valentine as an old-time radio play complete with character voices, sound effects, and ambient sound design. Madelaine was also a founding Steering Committee member of Portland Emerging Arts Leaders, where she developed programming to support the careers of the next generation of arts professionals. When not engaged in research or teaching, she writes folk songs about human wellbeing and engagement with the natural world, plays with new modifications for her recording equipment, and upcycles vintage jewelry.

Academic Interests

Community Engagement

Founding Camp Director, Crooked Tail Science and Songwriting Camp (in partnership with The Corvallis Arts Center and Spring Creek Project), 2018 & 2019

Songwriting Residency, Spring Creek Project, 2018 & 2019

Grant Review Panelist, Oregon Arts Commission, Career Opportunity Grants, 2016-2017

Grant Review Panelist, Oregon Arts Commission, Small Operating Grant, 2014

Founding Steering Committee Member, Portland Emerging Arts Leaders, 2012 & 2013

John C. Erkkila M.D. Endowment Fellowship, 2018

Student Leader of the Year, Portland State University, Student Activities and Leadership Program, 2007

Degrees and Certifications

Wayne State University: Ph.D. student (current)

Oregon State University: M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies with concentrations in Communication, Music, and History of Science

Portland State University: B.S. in Arts & Letters

Performing Arts Studies: Mannes College of Music, Portland Actors Conservatory, HB Studios

Conferences & Presentations

Coffman, M. A. Free Range Open Mic Night Ethnography (2020) Paper accepted for presentation at the 44th Conference of the Northwest Communication Association, Coeur D’Alene, ID. (cancelled due to Covid)

Johnson, A., Reason, D., & Coffman, M. A. Embedded Listening: How Sound Facilitates the Learning Environment (2020) QM Regional Conference West, Fullerton, CA. (cancelled due to Covid)

Coffman, M. A. Songwriting for Everyone: Musical Expression, Creativity, and Cognitive Science (2020) Soundbox Three, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR.

Coffman, M. A. Community, Popular Culture, and Rhetoric as a Form of Social Agency (2019) Paper presented at 43rd Conference of the Northwest Communication Association, Coeur D’Alene, ID. Nominated for Top Graduate Paper in Rhetorical Criticism and Theory.

Chair and Moderator, Innovation in the Arts (2013) Oregon Arts Summit, Portland, OR


Courses Taught

Teaching Experience

Wayne State University: Argumentation & Debate, Public Speaking

Oregon State University: Argumentation & Critical Discourse, Songwriting Workshops (as part of thesis research)