Thursday, 18 December 2008

What's all this about fairness?

I'm not really sure what I'm doing with blogging, as I often don't have the time or health or readers to encourage me to pursue it. I see all my friends writing these lovely, thought-provoking blogs, and I want to do the same. However, I also don't like the idea of putting it all out there on the Internets for everyone to read.

What I'm going to pursue for this blog will be a collection of thought-provoking, not-necessarily-musicological-or-academic writing. I'll challenge myself to write one post a week. We'll see what happens.

In other news, academically, I've been active. I'll be posting the anonymous results of my Scholars with Disabilities survey soon. TBA.

OK, what I meant by this post was to go on about fairness in academia and this concept's relation to disability studies. Then, I was distracted and too busy. This theme of "fairness" is something that I came across over and over again when working on my study. For example, "It's not fair to give a disabled person more time, because everyone else has to complete assignments within another shorter period of time." This is an especially frustrating remark, because it makes no sense that someone who has to struggle just to type sentences on the computer should be denied the ability to take longer to complete assignments. Similarly, it seems more unfair that someone with demonstrated creativity and dedication should be told they cannot have accommodations because it "isn't fair" to other people in the program.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Shame, Shame, Shame

As I've discussed earlier on this blog, I am conducting a study on music scholars and students with invisible, chronic illnesses. Please do not badger me with comments as to why I have not updated my blog. I am a very busy and/or infirm person and blogging is not, at the moment, high on my agenda. When I am not facing the challenges of my auto-immune diseases, I am functioning as a graduate student. However, I would like to occasionally blog about my study and what I'm thinking as I prepare for the AMS/SMT panel.

I have noticed, in my initial foray into disability studies, that there are two polarized viewpoints on the subject. There are those who want disability studies to be politicized and to enable those who are differently-abled to "come out" and be accommodated and supported for the unique contributions they can lend to academia. This viewpoint originated, I believe, because it is well-known that many people with disabilities have diseases or challenges that are chronic, serious and lifelong. Those with auto-immune diseases with no cure cannot help that they are often bedridden; those in wheelchairs because of diseases that attack their nervous system cannot help their inability to walk. This side of the argument views disability as culturally constructed, and challenges others to overcome their preconceived disrespect and prejudice against the disabled.

On the other side, there are those who want to keep their disabilities a secret, often because their conditions are considered shameful. For example: Mental illness, by and large, is still very marginalized in the United States. Also, there are various disabilities that can be corrected or at least drastically improved through scientific improvements. There was a thread on the American Musicological Society discussion list that presented this side of the argument, which argues against disability as a negative that must be corrected in order for its sufferers to fully function as academics.

Both viewpoints are valid and offer important insight into the predicament of the disabled. We did not ask to be this way, and with certain accommodations we can function as academics. Without these accommodations, many of us find even the act of writing papers or studying for an example to be insurmountable challenges. However, we do not want to be told we cannot do something because of our disability. To say we cannot study or cannot read or think because of a physical or mental ailment is psychologically destructive and marginalizing. It seems to be that both viewpoints are important in moderation. To an extent, disability is a cultural construct, because it was our culture that decided disability = BAD, IRREGULAR, UNACCEPTABLE, UNINTELLIGENT, etc. However, we still need certain accommodations and levels of tolerance of our challenges, and recognition of the setbacks we will therefore face. This does not mean we are not good enough to be academics, or even that we are want to leave our disabilities behind and try to live life as "normal," just that we will need help in our endeavors for these unavoidable challenges.

MOREOVER, the scholars I have talked to overwhelmingly experience some level of shameful feelings because of their conditions. They feel marginalized by their institutions and are, to an extent, embarrassed to ask for what they perceive as "special treatment." This is a huge problem, and is just unacceptable. No one should feel shame for being born with both above-average intelligence, a love for music, a high curiosity and desire for knowledge, and also moderate-to-severe illnesses. We are a viable part of the academic community, and without our voices, we and other scholars who could benefit from our research will suffer.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

RIP Leonard B. Meyer

Yesterday, I read on the AMS listserv that Leonard B. Meyer, prolific and influential music cognition, theorist, aesthetician and philosopher had passed away. I read Emotion and Meaning in Music during my first term as a master's student at Oxford, and have subsequently read Style and Music: Theory, History and Ideology, The Rhythmic Structure of Music, Explaining Music: Essays and Explorations, Music, the Arts and Ideas (his book on 20thC music), and The Spheres of Music as a master's and doctoral student. My own ideology of music and cultural studies has diverged quite a bit from Meyer's views, but nevertheless he has had an impact on how I think about music, and on many others in the musicological and aesthetician world (Peter Kivy dedicated his book Music, Language and Cognition to Meyer).

Musicophilia Samantha 2007

As much as 2006 saw me returning to my punk love with a vengeance, my 2007 musical passions were a discovery of metal and “indie,” and a continuance of my punk fetish. In “classical” music, I became even more fond of William Byrd and his cronies, and rejuvenated my love for Janacek, Puccini, Verdi, Bellini, Rossini, Mendelssohn, Vaughn Williams, Elgar, Amy Beach, Mahler, Louise Farrenc, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, Schubert, Schumann and Brahms.

Sammee’s Top in 2007 Music Album Picks

· Rufus Wainwright, Want One

· Blur, Self-Titled

· The Libertines, Self-titled

· Aimee Mann, You’re With Stupid Now

· Bad Religion, New Maps of Hell

· Elvis Costello, Rock and Roll Music

· Black Sabbath, ANY and ALL

· The Clash, ANY and ALL

· Eisley, Room Noises

· Rilo Kiley, Take Offs and Landings

· Elliott Smith, ANY and ALL

· Feist, The Reminder

· Greg Graffin, Cold as the Clay

· Imogen Heap, Speak for Yourself

· Interpol, Turn Off the Bright Lights

· Ingrid Michaelson, Girls and Boys

· regina spektor, Begin to Hope

· Johnny Cash, ANY and ALL

· Kate Nash,

· Landon Pigg,

· Nada Surf, The Weight is a Gift

· Weezer, Blue album

· OZMA, ANY and ALL!!!!

· MxPx, ANY and ALL

· Opeth, Blackwater Park

· Panic! At the Disco, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out

· Postal Service, Give Up

· Bright Eyes, Letting Off the Happiness

· Relient K, ANY and ALL

· Switchfoot, Oh Gravity!

· Silversun Pickups, Carnavas

· Slayver, Reign in Blood

· Buzzcocks, ANY and ALL

· Tegan and Sara, The Con

· Andrew Bird, Armchair Apocrypha

· The Decemberists, The Crane Wife

· The Magnetic Fields, 69 Love Songs

· Agalloch, Ashes Against the Grain

Reading Challenge

I've decided to follow Rebecca's example and try to read 50 pleasurable, non-musicological books this year. Below is the BBC's Top 200 books. I've italicized the books I've already read and put stars beside those I would like to read for 2008.

Here's the list of what I'll read this year:

Finish: His Dark Materials (Pullman), I Am America and So Can You (Colbert), The House of Leaves, One Hundred Years of Solitude (Garcia-Marquez),

Read anew: Brideshead Revisited (Waugh), The Poisonwood Bible (Kingsolver), The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Kundra), The Handmaid's Tale (Atwood), Sons and Lovers (D.H. Lawrence), American Psycho (Ellis), Hogfather (Prachett), High Fidelity (Hornby), ...

... and also Bill Bryson's A History of Nearly Everything, which isn't on the list...

More to follow...

Happy New Year 2008!! :) :)

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman (in progress) (*)
4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller

12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot

28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez (in progress) (*)
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson

37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas

45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh (*)
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy

49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher

51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (*)
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho (*)
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez (*)
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie

101. Three Men In A Boat, Jerome K. Jerome
102. Small Gods, Terry Pratchett
103. The Beach, Alex Garland
104. Dracula, Bram Stoker
105. Point Blanc, Anthony Horowitz
106. The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens
107. Stormbreaker, Anthony Horowitz
108. The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks
109. The Day Of The Jackal, Frederick Forsyth
110. The Illustrated Mum, Jacqueline Wilson
111. Jude The Obscure, Thomas Hardy
112. The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾, Sue Townsend
113. The Cruel Sea, Nicholas Monsarrat
114. Les Misérables, Victor Hugo
115. The Mayor Of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy
116. The Dare Game, Jacqueline Wilson
117. Bad Girls, Jacqueline Wilson
118. The Picture Of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
119. Shogun, James Clavell
120. The Day Of The Triffids, John Wyndham
121. Lola Rose, Jacqueline Wilson
122. Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray
123. The Forsyte Saga, John Galsworthy
124. House Of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski (IN PROGRESS) (*)
125. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver (*)
126. Reaper Man, Terry Pratchett
127. Angus, Thongs And Full-Frontal Snogging, Louise Rennison
128. The Hound Of The Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle
129. Possession, A. S. Byatt
130. The Master And Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
131. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood (*)
132. Danny The Champion Of The World, Roald Dahl
133. East Of Eden, John Steinbeck
134. George's Marvellous Medicine, Roald Dahl
135. Wyrd Sisters, Terry Pratchett
136. The Color Purple, Alice Walker
137. Hogfather, Terry Pratchett (*)
138. The Thirty-Nine Steps, John Buchan
139. Girls In Tears, Jacqueline Wilson
140. Sleepovers, Jacqueline Wilson
141. All Quiet On The Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque
142. Behind The Scenes At The Museum, Kate Atkinson
143. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby (*)
144. It, Stephen King
145. James And The Giant Peach, Roald Dahl
146. The Green Mile, Stephen King

147. Papillon, Henri Charriere
148. Men At Arms, Terry Pratchett
149. Master And Commander, Patrick O'Brian
150. Skeleton Key, Anthony Horowitz

151. Soul Music, Terry Pratchett
152. Thief Of Time, Terry Pratchett
153. The Fifth Elephant, Terry Pratchett
154. Atonement, Ian McEwan
155. Secrets, Jacqueline Wilson
156. The Silver Sword, Ian Serraillier
157. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey
158. Heart Of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
159. Kim, Rudyard Kipling
160. Cross Stitch, Diana Gabaldon
161. Moby Dick, Herman Melville
162. River God, Wilbur Smith
163. Sunset Song, Lewis Grassic Gibbon
164. The Shipping News, Annie Proulx
165. The World According To Garp, John Irving
166. Lorna Doone, R. D. Blackmore
167. Girls Out Late, Jacqueline Wilson
168. The Far Pavilions, M. M. Kaye
169. The Witches, Roald Dahl
170. Charlotte's Web, E. B. White
171. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

172. They Used To Play On Grass, Terry Venables and Gordon Williams
173. The Old Man And The Sea, Ernest Hemingway
174. The Name Of The Rose, Umberto Eco
175. Sophie's World, Jostein Gaarder

176. Dustbin Baby, Jacqueline Wilson
177. Fantastic Mr Fox, Roald Dahl
178. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov

179. Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, Richard Bach
180. The Little Prince, Antoine De Saint-Exupery
181. The Suitcase Kid, Jacqueline Wilson
182. Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens
183. The Power Of One, Bryce Courtenay
184. Silas Marner, George Eliot
185. American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis (*)
186. The Diary Of A Nobody, George and Weedon Grossmith
187. Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh
188. Goosebumps, R. L. Stine
189. Heidi, Johanna Spyri

190. Sons And Lovers, D. H. Lawrence (*)
191. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera (*)
192. Man And Boy, Tony Parsons
193. The Truth, Terry Pratchett
194. The War Of The Worlds, H. G. Wells
195. The Horse Whisperer, Nicholas Evans
196. A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry
197. Witches Abroad, Terry Pratchett
198. The Once And Future King, T. H. White
199. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
200. Flowers In The Attic, Virginia Andrews

Currently Listening...

  • Pearl and the Beard
  • The Dodos
  • Andrew Bird: Armchair Apocrypha
  • Anna Ternheim
  • NOFX
  • Fairiborz Lachini
  • The Clash
  • Rufus Wainwright: Rufus Does Judy
  • Radiohead: In Rainbows

Currently Watching...

  • Curb Your Enthusiasm
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • Big Bang Theory
  • Mad Men
  • South Park
  • Zach Galifinakis

Currently Reading...

  • Bill Bryson: A History of Nearly Everything
  • Gabriel Garcia-Marquez: One Hundred Years of Solitude
  • The House of Leaves
  • Robertson Davies: The Rebel Angels

Favourite Videos