i have wanted to write about so many things over the last month or so. at one point it seemed like anglo-american musicological academics were losing control. it’s calmed down and some other things have happened that i thought would be good to compile all in one place.
some time in december, my facebook/twitter BLEW UP with somewhat confusing and vague comments from my friends/colleagues, all related. in the wake of Charles Rosen’s death, the AMS listserv went bananas. and not in the good way. but it was so bad, so intense that it caused me to do something i didn’t think i’d have to do for quite some time: rejoin the listserv.
background: when i became a member of AMS in 2006, i went whole hog. i had my copies of JAMS, poured over the newsletter, and subscribed to the listserv. over time (a short period of time), that enthusiasm waned. the emails on the listserv were insipid, confrontational, and (the worst part), never-ending. i jumped ship pronto with no intention of looking back.
but the outrage that seemed to be pouring out of the internet was too important for me to refuse to participate. what took place after Rosen’s death seemed like slander and it was malicious. and one email after another caused the whole thing to snowball. most people wondered if this was the right conversation to have, if this was the right place, or the right time. (i disagreed.) and at one point, it was all anyone could talk about. and as i witnessed it, i became more and more distressed. musicologists fight about stupid, hypothetical shit all the time — it’s absurd yet tolerable. but this was new. now don’t get me wrong, at some point, all of our careers and decisions will be discussed but this seemed like — no, was — an attack. many people expressed a fair amount of outrage but the conversation and its many offshoots went on for weeks. thankfully, another happy little event came and distracted everyone: Zachary Woolfe’s review of Carolyn Abbate and Roger Parker’s new book The History of Opera. in one very short paragraph, Woolfe denounced and insulted all of musicology, especially opera scholarship. i was slack-jawed when i read the review (i had just purchased the book maybe a month before) and it seemed like many people were asking where did Woolfe get the stones to make such a bold statement (in so many words). now as a contemporary opera scholar, i acknowledge that there is opera after Britten and that opera scholarship has been slow to recognize this fact (and this points to endemic problems within the discipline, ones i’m ready to debate at any time) but work is being done — good work. and for an outsider to be so incredibly dismissive seemed like someone taking a battering ram to the door. and when you’re on the other side of that door, regardless of what your feelings might be, you join the troops and prepare for battle.
it’s all quiet on the electronic front and now (with help from Columbia’s new Gmail server), i have once again relegated the listserv emails to their own folder, away from my inbox. i check on them from time to time but that’s about it.
in other news, i’ve been accepted to Duke’s PhD program. as you might imagine, this comes as a great relief. for those who have never applied to graduate school (for any field), i try to explain the “all you need is one” concept — sure, we all have our top choices and our safety schools but in the end, all that matters is that there’s one school that will take you, one place where you’ll be able to continue your studies and write your dissertation. this made my rejection by Cambridge a few days later a lot easier to swallow. what i’ve learned after going through this the first time three years ago is that this process is not personal. there may be personal aspects to it but they are few and far between. Cambridge told me not to take my rejection personally and i didn’t (well to a degree. as a human i, like anyone else, hate to be rejected by anyone) and if i get rejected from the other four schools i applied to, i won’t take that personally either. (well except UNC — if they reject me a second time, god knows what i’ll do) but regardless, i can go about the business of my life knowing that come fall of this year, i’ll be in school again.
and can i just say how humorous i find it that all of my NC friends are like “come home!”? i appreciate the enthusiasm, i really do but right now, there’s still a little ways to go before i decide on moving back home. my facebook status announcing the news garnered almost 200 likes (and 60 comments) which i think is so absurd and, honestly, it makes me feel a little ashamed. thirsty much? but i share everything, how could i not share this? plus, 200 people out of approximately 1800 friends is a drop in the bucket. still, it was an overwhelming drop. i think i’ll choose to be thankful rather than ashamed.