Works in Progress

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Honisch, Stefan Sunandan. Forthcoming. “Disability and Musical Identification in the Light of Synechism.” In L. Carlson and M.C. Murray, (Eds.), ‘We are all Disabled’: Critical Reflections on the Meaning of Disability.

Johnson, Shersten. Forthcoming. “Music Analysis and Accessibility in the Music Theory Classroom.” In Routledge Companion to Music Theory Pedagogy on Music Analysis and Accessibility, ed. L. VanHandel (Routledge Press).

Abstract: Learning activities in music theory courses are at times overdependent on visual representations of music that can disable a curriculum by limiting accessibility for some students (for example, those with low vision, aural or kinesthetic learners, and those whose musical experience is based on oral rather than written tradition). This article proposes some alternate ways to engage specific music theoretical concepts through other modalities of understanding that benefit a variety of students.

McKay, George. Work in Progress. “Alla zoppa: jazz and disability.” In The Routledge Companion to Jazz, edited by Nick Gebhardt and Tony Whyton (Routledge).


Cooper, Beth Keyes. Work in Progress. “Madness in Music: Four Critical Case Studies.” The Graduate Center, City University of New York.


Holmes, Jessica A. Music at the Margins of Sense. This book offers a plural account of d/Deaf musical experience, engaging the erroneous beliefs associated with deafness by attending to the diverse musical endeavors of d/Deaf people. I consider a range of perspectives including from members of Deaf culture who communicate using sign language, hearing-aid users and cochlear implant recipients, people with music-induced hearing loss, and those who identify as “tone-deaf” and/or “beat-deaf.” Through ethnographic interviews, multidisciplinary analyses of performances, analysis of scientific discourse on deafness, and an examination of online discussion boards and social media, my investigation considers how d/Deaf people harness the inescapable multisensory contours of musical experience. My approach neither privileges a hearing perspective nor idealizes the experience of deafness. Rather, my core assumption is that “deafness,” like “hearing,” encompasses a multitude of rich, complex, and contradictory physiological and socio-cultural experiences belonging to the full spectrum of human biocultural diversity (a paradigmatic shift in thinking around deafness that scholars in Deaf studies have termed “Deaf Gain”). 

Honisch, Stefan Sunandan. Vulnerable Virtuosities: Disability in Competitive Music PerformanceThis book project focuses on the institution of the piano competition, a highly publicized showcase for visual and sonic display in which musical performance is often marketed as superhuman. Beginning with Imre Ungár’s second prize at the 1932 Chopin Competition in Warsaw, and culminating with Nobuyuki Tsujii’s gold medal at the 2009 Van Cliburn Competition, I locate the competitive arena as one in which disabled pianists throw the supposed invulnerability signified by virtuosic bodies into interpretive chaos. Seen and heard as vulnerable, even as they are demonstrably virtuosic, disabled pianists challenge judges, audiences, and critics to deliberate about what forms of visuality and aurality are prized. Rather than equating virtuosity and ability on the one hand, and vulnerability and disability on the other, this monograph theorizes vulnerability and disability as a series of aesthetic, affective, ethical, and political demands within the competitive arena.

Howe, Blake. Sonic Prosthesis: Disability and the Dependencies of Musical Discourse. (The tentative title is an homage to Mitchell & Snyder 2000.) In this book project, I consider the ways in which many musical narratives—requiring tension before release, conflict before resolution—adopt disability as their central impediments. Topics include historical and analytical case studies of the reception of Paul Wittgenstein’s one-hand pianism, the role of disability in exegetical accounts of music therapy rituals, musical representations of obsession in the nineteenth-century, and the use of vocal disfluency (stuttering, muteness) as a form of stigma within musical narratives.

Jensen, Moulton, Stephanie. Porgy’s Cane: American Opera and Disability Since 1935. This book is about how disability—in all its manifestations—has been found and still turns up everywhere in American opera, working alongside other cultural ideologies in particularly American and distinctly twentieth-century ways. This book examines eight American operas that have significant links to disability:

George Gershwin, Porgy and Bess (1935)
Gian Carlo Menotti, The Medium (1946)
Miriam Gideon, Fortunato (1958)
Carlisle Floyd, Of Mice and Men (1970)
Philip Glass, Einstein on the Beach (1976)
John Adams, The Death of Klinghoffer (1991)
Tobias Picker, Thérèse Raquin (2000)
Jake Heggie, Moby Dick (2011)

Each of these operas represents a cultural landmark, embodying and shaping attitudes toward disability in the U.S.


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