Not much blogging these days; I'm due to fly back to Los Angeles next week and present a chapter at my department's dissertation seminar. It's a nice system, one that's fairly unique to our program. Every two weeks, everyone who is out of coursework, and thus either working on a dissertation proposal or on a diss itself, meets to critique each other's work, supervised by a faculty member. We all complain about it, but I have to say that it has been really valuable for me. If nothing else, signing up to present your work means that you have a firm deadline, and in this nebulous writing process, there is nothing more delicious than a deadline.
The chapter I'm presenting is my one on pop singers during McCarthyism. It looks in particular at my three favorite girls: Patti Page, Doris Day, and Rosemary Clooney. Originally I was going to do Peggy Lee as well, but I think the narrative is better with just these three. There is a ton to say about this repertoire, but in my chapter I'm focusing in particular on race, and particularly on whiteness. The backdrop to this music is the moment of intense ethnic assimilation after World War II, in which Joe McCarthy was himself an important part. It's been one of my favorite chapters to write: great music, important issues. I'll blog more about it at some point, or you can come see me give the Rosemary Clooney chunk at SAM in a few weeks.
In the meantime, I have a quick change of gears for the next few days. In the traveling roadshow that is my life, I'm driving up to Connecticut to be a guest in a graduate seminar taught by my former advisor at Wesleyan. It's pretty awesome, actually, to go back to the hollowed grounds of my alma mater in the capacity of a teacher. The students--who are all in the ethnomusicology program there, which should make for interesting disciplinary discussion--are reading my chapter on John Cage, and comparing it to some older pieces of Cage scholarship. I'm really looking forward to it!
5 days ago