Agenda and Program for Music and Disability Events at AMS/SMT 2016

Greetings! The annual AMS/SMT conference is nearly upon us, and it promises to be a stimulating and exciting event. Please find attached the program for the evening session, “Cripping the Music Theory/Music History Curriculum” (on Thursday, 3 November, from 8–11pm), and the agenda for the business meeting (on Saturday, 5 November, from 12:15–1:45pm).

Safe travels to everyone attending the conference, and we will see you in Vancouver!

2016 Program and Business Meeting Agenda

Music and Disability Events at AMS/SMT in Vancouver

The AMS Music and Disability Study Group (MDSG) and the SMT Interest Group on Music and Disability (SMT IG) are pleased to announce the following papers and meetings at the joint annual meeting of the American Musicological Society and Society for Music Theory in Vancouver (3–6 November):

1. The MDSG and SMT IG are co-sponsoring a special session on music pedagogy and disability, “Cripping the Music Theory/Music History Curriculum,” to be held during the Thursday evening session from 8–10 PM in Grand Ballroom A.

The session will feature presentations on integrating music and disability as a common perspective within the standard core curriculum in music history and music theory. Following the presentation, and in response to each paper, six scholars of music and disability studies will conduct a roundtable discussion on music, disability, and pedagogy.

Program committee and organizers:

Samantha Bassler (New York University and Westminster Choir College of Rider University), chair, AMS Study Group on Music and Disability
Bruce Quaglia (University of Minnesota, Twin Cities), chair, SMT Interest Group on Music and Disability

Roundtable of Respondents:

Michael Bakan (Florida State University), Andrew Dell’Antonio (The University of Texas at Austin), Blake Howe (Louisiana State University), Stephanie Jensen-Moulton (Brooklyn College, City University of New York), Laurie Stras (University of Southampton), Joseph Straus (The Graduate Center, City University of New York)

Participants and Mini Abstracts:

William Cheng (Dartmouth College): “Inspiration Porn: A Classroom Quandary”

Here’s what I have learned from my students: teaching disability in the music classroom poses a challenge because music is Ability Studies. In my paper, I present the obstacles and rewards in teaching cases of inspiration porn to undergraduates via overcoming narratives on reality television. I conclude with the quandaries of instilling values of cynicism versus optimism in my students: that is, a wholesale rejection of inspiration porn versus the tempered recognition that, if or when we do allow ourselves to be moved, different wisdoms may nonetheless come to us in kind.

Robin Wallace (Baylor University) and Jeannette Jones (Boston University): “The Deaf Composer: Teaching Beethoven”

Our presentation outlines a class session that begins with myths about how Beethoven experienced music, drawing on media depictions and familiar stories. We offer a more nuanced discussion of deaf musical experience based on interviews with current deaf musicians and bring this to bear in Beethoven’s music by examining some of his manuscripts and sketches that indicate Beethoven experiencing music in visual and tactile ways.

James Deaville (Carleton University): “Teaching ‘Madness’, Teaching Schumann: A Workshop

This presentation aims to open up a dialogue about how we present the lives and works of composers who experience the disability of madness, through a workshop on teaching Robert Schumann. Based on our knowledge of his life and works, we—the panelists and audience—will collectively reflect on pedagogical approaches to Schumann and his madness, which in turn can inform our teaching of other “mad” composers.

Stefan Sunandan Honisch (Vancouver, British Columbia): “Disability Aesthetics as a Pedagogical Framework: Implications for the Study of Piano Repertoire”

This lecture-recital suggests ways of applying an aesthetics of disability to the curricula of undergraduate courses in piano repertoire. I will demonstrate my approach through two case studies: Frederic Chopin’s Fantasie in F minor, and Cesar Franck’s Prelude Chorale and Fugue, two works which demand very different kinds of virtuosity from the performer, and which therefore configure the reception of the bodies of performers according to necessarily divergent aesthetic frameworks. In exploring the ways that discourses of virtuosity implicitly and explicitly write the disabled body out of large-scale piano repertoire of the nineteenth century, my lecture-recital simultaneously engages the musicological and pedagogical limits of a disability-aesthetics approach.

2. The joint business meeting of the AMS MDSG and the SMT IG on Music and Disability will be held on Saturday, 12:15–1:45 PM (Port McNeil Room).

During the meeting, a forum will be held on new scholarship in music and disability studies, to introduce new scholars and further discussion about topics of mutual interest. The workshop participants are Feilin Hsiao, University of the Pacific; Virginia Whealton, Indiana University at Bloomington; Alejandro Tellez Vargas, University of North Texas; Tekla Babyak, Cornell University.

An agenda will be posted prior to the start of the conference. Please e-mail Samantha (s.e.bassler at merton dot oxon dot org) if you have an item of business for the meeting.

3. There are a two other papers featured on the conference program that pertain to music and disability studies:

  • On Thursday afternoon, Erin K. Maher (Delaware Valley University) will present a paper entitled, “The Lens of Disability in Darius Milhaud’s Postwar U.S. Reception” (3:30–4:15 PM, Junior Ballroom D)
  • On Saturday afternoon, Michael Accinno (University of California, Davis) will present a paper entitled, “A Music Conservatory for the Blind” (2:00–2:45 PM, Pavilion Ballroom B )

Please e-mail Michael ( to publicize any other details about music and disability events at AMS/SMT.