Events at AMS/SMT 2018

Dear Colleagues,

We are looking forward to connecting with many of you at our joint 2018 AMS/SMT meeting in San Antonio, Texas in a few short days! Below you will find information about our panel session on Thursday, November 1 (8:00-10:00 pm – Texas F), and our joint business meeting on Saturday, November 3 (12:30-2:00 – Travis C/D). Note that our Thursday evening panel session will be streamed live via our Facebook page:

We would also encourage those interested to attend the Friday morning special session on “Gestural Politics,” which features a presentation by Mel Chen (UC Berkeley) on agitation at the intersection of music, affect, animal studies, disability, and environmentalism (10:45-12:15 – Texas F).

Safe travels and until soon,

Jessica Holmes,
Chair, AMS Music & Disability Study Group

Anabel Maler
Chair, SMT Music & Disability Special Interest Group

Panel at AMS/SMT 2018

Music, Disability, and the Environment:
Bridging Scholarship with Activism

AMS/SMT in San Antonio
Thursday November, 1 – 8:00–10:00 p.m. (Texas F)

SMT Interest Group on Music & Disability
AMS Music & Disability Study Group
AMS Ecocriticism Study Group

Session Chairs:
Anabel Maler (Indiana University Bloomington)
Chair of the SMT Interest Group on Music and Disability
Jessica Holmes (UCLA)
Chair of the AMS Music and Disability Study Group
Jacob A. Cohen (Macaulay Honors College, CUNY)
Co-Chair of the AMS Ecocriticism Study Group

Chantal Lemire (Western University)
Jessica Schwartz (University of California, Los Angeles)
Ailsa Lipscombe (University of Chicago)
William Robin (University of Maryland)
James Deaville (Carleton University)
Rachel Mundy (Rutgers University-Newark)

Since its inception, disability studies has had strong ties to activism. In her groundbreaking study of the field, Simi Linton situates disability studies as a “juncture that can serve both academic discourse and social change,” a means of holding the academy accountable for the social consequences of our research and teaching (Linton 1998). Similarly, scholars of ecocriticism have insisted that “the urgency of the moment suggests that ecocritics must reflect upon, when it comes to the effectuality of their product, the character and quality of their ecological engagement” (Major and McMurry 2012). Disability studies and ecocriticism also share a critical attention to the built environment, whether as a structure that disables and enables human bodies, or as one that interacts with and integrates into existing ecosystems. Over the last decade, music scholarship on both disability and environmentalism has flourished, contributing to a greater understanding of embodiment, subjectivity, intersectionality, sustainability, and technological mediation in music: disability studies’ and ecocriticism’s common emphasis on activism, inclusive language, and accessibility grounds music scholarship in the social, wedding theory to praxis. Yet rarely have these sub-fields been put into dialogue.

By bringing disability studies, ecocriticism, and music research into new dialogue, this session aims to define our relationship to activism as music scholars involved in personal and/or professional engagement with disability and/or the environment. What are our moral obligations as representatives of “disability and music studies” or “ecomusicology,” and what are the ethical implications of writing about these topics? What tactics can we adopt from on-the-ground grassroots activism? How might we assume the role of public performers as we engage new audiences and new venues beyond academia? How can ecocriticism and disability studies generate new thinking around the human and environmental impact of music’s built-in infrastructures?

In the spirit of public scholarship, we will interrogate how activism can transform the intellectual, methodological, pedagogical, and institutional scope of our disciplines as a matter of un-disciplining. The session will begin with ten-minute lightning talks from our panelists. The session’s panelists represent a diverse range of music specializations and ways of engaging in activism both inside and outside the academy that will enrich existing discourse in musicology and music theory.

Ailsa Lipscombe will discuss how, within medical environments, attentive listening to conversations between the interlocking forces of human, machine, and architecture reveals ways of being and knowing; Jessica Schwartz will present on the role of activism and creative dissent in her research and pedagogy, including a recent course she designed titled “anarcho-musicology: music & anarchism”; William Robin will speak on how Twitter can function as an effective platform for musicologists to amplify activist work; Chantal Lemire will explore the relationship between music pedagogy and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) with reference to her own experience and others who live with ADHD; James Deaville will discuss his ongoing activism over disability rights on campus; and Rachel Mundy will discuss music’s place in the posthuman and material turn, an intervention in today’s discourse of ethics she calls “the animanities.”

Business Meeting

Saturday, November 3, 12:30-2:00 p.m. (Travis C/D)

SMT Interest Group on Music & Disability
AMS Music & Disability Study Group

1. Introductions (Anabel Maler & Jessica Holmes) (12:30-12:35)

2. Ongoing Projects of the Study Groups (12:35–1:00)

  • Panel “Music, Disability, and the Environment: Bridging Scholarship with Activism” (Jessica & Anabel)
  • Guest Blog update
  • Online bibliography update
  • Accessibility committee
  • Recent & forthcoming publications
  • Pedagogy
  • New AMS Leadership

3. New Business (1:00-1:20)

4. Goals for 2019 (1:20-1:30)

Meeting officially adjourns at 1:30



Program for Music and Disability Events at AMS 2017

Greetings, colleagues! We are looking forward to catching up with many of you at this week’s AMS conference in Rochester. Please find the attached program for the AMS Music and Disability Study Group’s session, to be held on Thursday from 8–11 PM in C: Highland A/K. 

AMS 2017 Panel Program

In addition, the study group will hold its business meeting on Friday from 12:15–1:15 PM in C: Highland, E/F. Please check our website later this week for business meeting documents.




Music and Disability Events at SMT 2017 in Arlington

The SMT Interest Group on Music and Disability invites all interested SMT members to join us from 12:15 to 1:45 on Friday November 3rd in Studio E of the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel for our annual group meeting. Please feel free to bring your lunch.

We will begin with a short business meeting that will last no more than fifteen minutes. This will then be followed by an informal seminar on The Intersections of Sound Studies and Disability Studies in Music that will last from 12:30 until approximately 1:45. We will be led for this seminar by noted authors Mara Mills (NYU) and Jonathan Sterne (McGill University) who will be joining us from The Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin where they are presently co-authoring a book on the history of time stretching and pitch shifting technology. Professors Mills and Sterne will be joining us via Skype. Sumanth Gopinath (University of Minnesota) and Jennifer Iverson (University of Chicago) will be our respondents, on site.

In preparation for this seminar, we ask that you read two short essays from the volume Keywords in Sound Studies: Chapter 4 (Mills) “Deafness,” and Chapter 6 (Sterne) “Hearing.” In addition, please also consider reading the recent essay “Dismediation: Three Proposals and Six Tactics,” co-authored by Mills and Sterne.

You can access these readings here:




Following the seminar, we will be holding an informal meet-and-greet happy hour from 5–6 p.m.


CFP: Cripping the Music Theory/Music History Curriculum at AMS/SMT in Vancouver

CFP: Cripping the Music Theory/Music History Curriculum
Special session of the AMS and SMT groups on Music and Disability, AMS and SMT Joint Conference in Vancouver, 3–6 November 2016

The Oxford Handbook on Music and Disability Studies (2015) demonstrates how disability studies is a lens to understand music and cultural studies throughout music history, and how music and disability informs analyses of music. The book brings music and disability studies to a wider audience of music scholarship, and many contributors have entertained questions from peers who wish to bring music and disability into general music courses.

The AMS Study Group and SMT Interest Group on Music and Disability will sponsor a special session on music pedagogy and disability at the 2016 joint conference in Vancouver. We seek proposals on new ways to integrate music and disability as a common perspective within the standard core curriculum in music history and music theory, rather than relegate music and disability to special topics and seminar courses. We seek presentations from colleagues who already utilize this perspective in their routine teaching responsibilities, and we welcome submissions from younger scholars who would like to workshop their ideas for syllabi. We encourage submissions in a variety of formats, including duo presentations, short position papers, longer research papers, workshops, interviews, demonstrations, testimonials, videos, Skype presentations, surveys, and more.

Proposals should clearly describe (1) the argument you will make or the information you will convey, (2) the format you will use, and (3) the estimated duration of your presentation. Please limit proposals to 250 words. Send proposals to no later than 4 April 2016. Submissions (with identifying information removed) will be read by the organizers and chairs of the AMS and SMT music and disability study group and interest group: Samantha Bassler and Bruce Quaglia.

Agenda and Program for the Music and Disability Study Group events at AMS 2015

Greetings! The annual AMS conference is nearly upon us, and it promises to be a stimulating and exciting event. Please find attached the program for the evening session, “What is Accessible Musicology?” (on Thursday, 12 November, from 8–11pm), and the agenda for the business meeting (on Saturday, 14 November, from 7:30–8:45am).

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

2015 Program and Business Meeting Agenda

DISMUS at SMT St. Louis

The DISMUS interest group will meet on Saturday Noon – 2 p.m. at the Society for Music Theory 2015 annual meeting in St. Louis. In the first hour, we will have our business meeting, including briefings on current projects and time to develop new collaborations and proposals. In the second hour, we will discuss Chapter 2 “Dismodernism Reconsidered” from Lennard Davis‘s The End of Normal.

End of NormalWe issue an open call for respondents, who will prepare a 5-minute response that engages Davis’s dismodernism essay from their own individual perspective. Come one, come all! We invite you to volunteer to give a short response, or simply to read this provocative essay and contribute to the discussion on Saturday October 31. Register your participation or direct questions to Jennifer Iverson (jennifer-iverson -at- and Bruce Quaglia (bruce.quaglia -at-

Conference Report: Music and Disability at the Society for American Music 2015

The next feature in our series of guest blog posts is by Michael Accinno, a doctoral candidate in musicology at the University of California at Davis. His previous studies include a bachelor’s degree in voice from Rice University, and a master’s in musicology from the University of Iowa. Accinno’s research focuses on music and politics, the reconstruction era, and disability studies, and has given papers on such topics at the Society for American Music, the CUNY Graduate Center Symposium on Music and Disability, and the UC Davis Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Symposium.

Is disability studies still an “emerging” area of research within musicology? At what point do we get to take the training wheels off and acknowledge that critical discussions of disability—like gender, sexuality, and race—are simply part of what we do as scholars? I often find myself renewing these questions whenever I attend academic conferences, and this month’s annual meeting of the Society for American Music (SAM) was no exception.

Encompassing the study of the music of the Americas, SAM has always included a dizzying array of places, styles, and peoples. Reflecting this eclecticism, papers at this year’s conference attended to disability in in varying guises, with stops along the way in film music (Neil Lerner’s discussion of “overcoming” in the 1945 film “Pride of the Marines”); jazz (Eduardo López-Dabdoub on the blind saxophonist Rahsaan Roland Kirk and the performance of disability); musical theater; hip-hop (Elyse Marrero’s engaging presentation on ASL interpreters and Hip Hop); and New England psalmody (my own paper on music at the Perkins School for the Blind).

A special seminar on disability and musical theater opened the door to a rich new potential area for further research. Organized by James Leve (Northern Arizona University), the seminar format included several long-established scholars who—in an important step forward for our subfield—contributed position papers about disability for the first time. Paul Laird (University of Kansas) provided a compelling critique of Nessarose and Elphaba, the two disabled female characters in Stephen Schwartz’s musical Wicked; Raymond Knapp (UCLA) reflected on a symposium he organized on Deaf West [link: Theatre’s production of Big River; Lauren Acton (York University) discussed representations of mental illness at the 2014 Stratford Festival in Canada; Steve Swayne (Dartmouth) explored Lucy Barker’s poisoning in Sweeney Todd; Last but not least, James Leve discussed Charlie and Algernon, a 1970s-era musical in which the title character Charlie (a man with down syndrome) is juxtaposed troublingly with Algernon (a laboratory mouse).

In an extended conversation period that followed the papers, several discussants encouraged the presenters to consider critiques raised within disability studies: what role (or lack thereof) do disability activists and actors play in theatrical representations of disability? To what extent do musical theater narratives, like literary narratives, function as a form of prosthesis? Finally, how can scholars, activists, and audiences use musical theater to imagine an inclusive future with disabled people rather than an ableist future without them?

The conversation sparked by these questions is still “emerging” for music theater scholars (let’s not shed the label just yet!). Nevertheless, musicals—Broadway, fringe, regional, and otherwise—have the promise to enliven and inform critiques of staged representations of disability for years to come.