Integrating Teaching: Music, Appalachian Studies, and Sustainability

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Ideas and practices related to sustainability have become more common in academia since the foundation of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education network and the growing currency of all things "green" in the business, structure, and daily life of higher education. In discussing elements of sustainability that I have incorporated into a course entitled "Ethnomusicology and Appalachia," I show how they are not part of a trend, but are foundational and transformative parts of both Appalachian studies and the study of people making music. Ethnomusicology is based in ideas of “music as culture” and as the study of musical activity, not idealized and autonomous “musical objects” (per Rice). Considering sustainability challenges notions of autonomy, which is crucial to understanding Appalachia's fluid tension (as described by Filene) between "insider" roots and "outsider" pressures. Essential scholarship on regional music-making by Jeff Titon is a model of this kind of integration, both in terms of compassionate and broad consideration of “musical sound” and in the socioaesthetic (per Kisliuk) ramifications of his conclusions. I will conclude my presentation by leading participants on an abbreviated soundwalk (per Westerkamp and Ferrington) to emphasize the importance of integrated and humane consideration in the study of music and Appalachia


Johnson City, TN

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