My 2018 In Review
Here’s a list of all the stuff I did, professionally, this year. I’m using this as the building blocks for my annual self-evaluation for work, so if I get a bit obnoxious discussing impact, that’s why.
Research and Writing
- The Sonic Episteme went into production at Duke UP. It will be published in Fall 2019 (exact date TBA). Huge shout-out to Elizabeth Ault at Duke for shepherding the project (and me!) through the review process successfully.
- My piece “Philosophies or Phonographies: On the political stakes of theorizing about and through music” was published in the 2017 JSP SPEP Special Issue (which is released in 2018–it’s papers from the 2017 meeting). This article builds on some of the material in The Sonic Episteme but the focus of this argument is slightly different than the book’s. This article is more like a metaphilosophical account of the two kinds of analyses of sound and music I study in the book: the constituents of the sonic episteme, some of which are “philosophies,” and the phonographic alternatives to each constituent of the sonic episteme I study in the book.
- My article “On the Gender Politics of Music and the Ineffable: on the figure of the feminine in Jankelevitch & Levinas” was published in The Journal of Aesthetics and Phenomenology. (Thanks to Elaine Miller for the invitation to contribute to the special issue on French Aesthetics.) This piece built on research I did in grad seminars in 2002-3! Jankelevitch’s book on musical ineffability has made a big splash in anglophone musicology, but there isn’t a ton of literature that considers this book with respect to the mutual influence Jankelevitch and Levinas had on one another’s work up through 1961, when both Music & the Ineffable and Totality & Infinity were published…and there’s even less literature that does this from the perspective of feminist scholarship on Levinas. The basic argument of this article is that “music” functions in Jankelevitch analogously to the way “the feminine” functions in Levinas, and VJ even genders music feminine in the book. Thus, applying feminist scholarship on Levinas’s use of the feminine to VJ’s text can tell us a lot about that book’s gender politics. They are not good. Nor are the gender politics of musicologist Carolyn Abbate’s famous and influential article on Jankelevitch’s book: like Levinas, who ultimately instrumentalizes the feminine and locates the fundamental ethical relationship in the father’s relation to the son (the son the person in which the father can be both recognizably the same and unknowably other), Abbate uses Jankelevitch as the white masculine other through which musicology is both the same (focused on a repertoire of white Western dudes) and other (studying it for its performative dimensions rather than its textual ones). I expect this article to impact the uptake of both Jankelevitch and Abbate’s work on him in musicology. The other question this article raises for me is: Do I return to all that work I did as a grad student on sound in Levinas? I *almost* wrote my dissertation on that. OTOH, that work still remains to be done; OTOH, I’m not sure I’m especially interested in narrowly figure oriented work. Perhaps I’ll do an article and leave it at that.
- I published two pieces in SoundingOut!, a crossover academic/popular publication focused on sound studies. Thanks as always to Jennifer Stoever and Liana Silva.
- I have two older pieces in the process of being revamped and published in new places:
- Ch 1 of my 2010 book The Conjectural Body was translated into Spanish for Ecuadorian journal post(s).
- An expanded version of my 2016 SoundingOut! Article “How Not To Listen To Lemonade: music criticism and epistemic violence” will be included included in The Lemonade Reader.
- I published three pieces of public philosophy:
- My piece on the gender politics of pop’s “chill” turn was published by The Guardian in their The Music Essay feature. Thanks to Laura Snapes for the invite and the edits.
- I wrote about the role of political philosophy in the NBC sitcom The Good Place for the LA Review of Books. As of November 24th 2018 the piece has been shared on Facebook more than 1700 times. Thanks to Phil Macinak for the opportunity to finally say something about this show.
- I wrote about the way Charlotte’s politics and culture are captured in/by the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport for popula. One philosophical contribution this piece makes is identifying how the aesthetics of earlier articulations of neoliberalism (like a mall’s privatization of traditionally public space) are used to mask intensifying and evolving neoliberalisms (the mechanisms of the security state throughout an airport, for example).
- I presented work at a lot of conferences:
- “On the ‘new’ and the ‘hold up!’ as gestures of thought” at the American Philosophies Forum in April. This was material that came from The Sonic Episteme.
- “Gender and Private Property in 21st Century Pop” at PopCon in Seattle, also in April. This is the main conference where pop music ademics meet with pop music journalists and critics working in the non-academic press. This is new research related to my dancecult article from last year and to my Resilience & Melancholy book. It studies gender as a property relation and how that is negotiated in contemporary US and UK pop.
- I also contributed to the Critical Karaoke roundtable at PopCon. Critical Karaoke is where you talk about a song while that song plays, for the full length of the song. The conference theme in 2018 was gender, so I spoke about L7’s “Pretend We’re Dead.”
- “The Biopolitics of Vibratory Resonance” at SPEP in October. My paper was part of the Friday afternoon single-paper-plus-respondent session, which is usually the spot for what the program committee thinks are the best papers.
- “Out with the new and in with the infra-” at the American Studies Association in November. This combined some of the work on Beyonce in The Sonic Episteme with some new research on The B-52s, so it’s a bit of testing the waters of this new stuff.
- I keynoted the Future/Present conference at the music department at Uppsala University in June. Thanks to Veronika Mutsich for organizing the conference.
- In November I spoke at the UW Madison music department colloquium.
- In terms of creative research, a new sound art piece of mine was featured in the Sonic Cyberfeminism listening room at DICE festival in Berlin in fall 2018.
- My work is being taught and cited and cited, just as some examples.
- In Spring 2018 I taught one section of PHIL 1102 Introduction to Philosophy (W) and the graduate Feminist Theory & Its Applications course.
- In Summer 1 2018 I taught one section of PHIL 1001.
- In Fall 2018 I taught one section of PHIL 1102 and one section of undergraduate Feminist Philosophy. I have taught that course often in the past but I redesigned the syllabus this semester to incorporate newer material. I also redesigned the student-to-student interaction assignment in my online class; I talk about this below.
- In Spring 2018 I read two of our MA research papers, and in Fall I read one.
- In Spring 2018 I was on the committee for Josie Karut’s MA in Anthropology.
- In Fall 2018 I did a directed reading with a grad student on neoliberalism and popular culture.
- In Fall 2018 I guest taught one session of our graduate Methods class, on feminist methods.
- I continue to mentor former students, students at other schools, and junior faculty. A lot of this happens over social media and Skype.
Service–I did a lot of heavy service this year, most of it to the profession.
- I was on the APA Eastern Program Committee for the 2019 meeting. This involved reading and rating 30-35 papers, organizing 2 sessions, and finding commenters and chairs for about 6 other sessions.
- I became co-editor of The Journal of Popular Music Studies on July 1. This is a three year term. This involves regular, ongoing reading of submissions and assigning reviewers, weekly conference calls with the full editorial team, and inviting, reading, and editing content for our two sections of editorially reviewed material.
- In Spring 2018 I was on the university-wide Faculty Research Grants Committee. I read and ranked about 7-10 proposals and went to a few meetings of the Arts and Humanities subcommittee.
- I chaired the committee charged with the 5-year chair review for Shannon Sullivan. This mostly happened in Fall 2018 and involved a meeting, surveying faculty and students, and writing a report.
- I was on the Department Review Committee. In addition to our regular annual evaluations of untenured faculty, we had a tenure case, two tenured faculty performance reviews, and a senior lecturer reappointment.
- I continued serving as honors director for the department. We had one student complete an honors thesis in Spring 2018.
- I continued my service on the Ethics Center Director’s Advisory Committee
- I continued my service on the philosophy department’s Graduate Advisory Committee
- I served as the alternate for CLAS Faculty Council.
- I reviewed for philoSOPHIA, JAAC, Popular Music, Southern Cultures, Journal of the American Musicological Society (2x), and Organised Sound. I also reviewed a piece for the digital humanities project Beyond Citation.
- I co-organized the NYC area Feminist Sound Studies Meetup, which is an informal networking gathering for researchers, artists, and activists whose work focuses on sound.
2018 was my first full year of commuting from CT to CLT for work. It was hard. Fall semester felt unusually punishing on my students–attrition in both online and IRL classes was higher than usual, as was students’ ability to keep up even as they stayed enrolled. The two hurricane cancellations certainly contributed to this, but it wasn’t just me and it wasn’t just UNCC students that were having a hard time. So one thing I’m going to think about for 2019 — especially as I redesign my pop music appreciation class and do a whole new prep for philosophy of the body — is how I can make it easier for students to stay enrolled and keep up with assignments. In grad and upper level undergrad courses, I may switch from requiring reflection assignments due every week to requiring students to complete, say, 12 out of 14 weekly assignments for full credit. That builds some flexibility into the course requirements. At the intro level I may toy with options that let students do EITHER lots of small assignments throughout the course OR two big assignments–midterm and final; that way they can pace themselves as they are able. Pedagogically I’d prefer to have scaffolded assignments, but I don’t feel like I’m in a situation where the pedagogically ideal method is actually most advantageous to students.
I had taught the online Intro course for two semesters and significantly re-tooled a few things that weren’t working well for Fall 2018. First, I changed the quizzes so they were pass/fail instead of graded. Students were consistently scoring low, and my intention for the quizzes was to use them to cement rather than assess knowledge, so I changed them to quizzes where students get unlimited chances to get the correct answer. This also addresses what is apparently a huge cheating problem in online classes at UNCC. By making my quizzes open-book and expecting students to work on questions till they get them right, I’ve eliminated the possibility of cheating. Of course they can look up the answer, collaborate, etc. The point of this exercise isn’t to test what they should already know, but to exercise their understanding and make it stronger. The very act of completing the quizzes will further cement course concepts in their head. That’s the point. Second, the discussion board assignments were not working for many reasons. Despite repeated instruction both that they must and how they should cite evidence, most students just used the discussions to spout their opinions (I also suspect that students who enroll for online classes have less time to do these assignments adequately). So there were both consistently low grades and not enough learning happening. I decided to change that assignment–this is the element of the course where there is student-to-student interaction, which is something the Quality Matters reviewers emphasized that I needed to include–to a small group collaborative note-taking exercise. The intention here is to have them discuss course materials in ways that increase their understanding of course content, and that can also be achieved through this collaborative note-taking assignment. I made a template for students to use, so this also taught students *how* to take notes. This received a lot of interest from other academics on Twitter, so the impact of this pedagogical choice extends beyond my own classroom.
For Spring 2019 I’m teaching my online Intro to Philosophy again, and I think I am done tweaking this course for now. Which is good because I’m completely redesigining my pop music appreciation gen ed course, both in terms of focus/content and in terms of making it a fully online course. It’s an “Arts and Society” course, so I’m going to organize it by society-related topic: pop music and geography, pop music and identity, pop music and technology, pop music and work, pop music and the law, pop music and politics. Each topic will have readings and listenings from lots of pop music genres and traditions. I’m thinking about having those open-note, fix-it-till-you-get-it-right quizzes at the end of each topic/module, and then having a short-answer essay midterm (two questions from each unit, you must answer one from each unit) and a final where they have to explain a concept from a course reading and use that to explain the social significance of a song of their choosing.
I’m also teaching a Feminist Philosophy & Music seminar in Spring 2019. I organized this by picking specific topics within feminist theory and then doing readings and listenings from various musical traditions on said topics. My main aim with this course is to bring more music scholarship to feminist theory in general. Scholarship in film, visual arts, and literature has come to be central to the feminist theory canon, but there’s no music scholarship that you find on feminist theory syllabi the way you find, say, Laura Mulvey or Helen Cixous.
In terms of research and writing for 2019, I have two articles that I’ve committed to writing: one for Thompson & Goh’s special issue of Feminist Media Studies on Sonic Cyberfeminisms, and one “state of the field” piece about music & feminism. I have a piece on post-#MeToo responses to the “can we separate the art from the artist?” question that I’ll use as a conference paper and then at some point send to a journal. I have a few abstracts out under consideration on the potential new B-52s and WOXY projects…so I’ll get started on these for spring conferences, hopefully. I am drafting an article on housework sounds and songs about housework. And some day–maybe someday in 2019?–I’ll finally be able to move forward on the “asking ‘who cleans up after other people?’ is a more important question for political philosophy than ‘who governs?’” piece.