[Smt-talk] Female theorists in history

Linda Seltzer lseltzer at alumni.caltech.edu
Sun Oct 16 09:56:19 PDT 2011

During the time period when I took undergraduate and graduate courses in
music history and theory, none of the courses ever covered music by a
female composer.  None of the assigned texts were written by women, except
in ethnomusicology.  I am not saying that the syllabus should be based on
gender, but there was definitely room for some inclusiveness.

As one individual woman, I have had a great deal of difficulty getting the
level of funding to support being able to work in composition and theory.
I assume I am not the only woman who has or has had this experience.  For
me it has been a struggle and my work in music has had to continue at the
expense of other things.

So I appreciate it if a student wants to make the extra effort to find out
what women worked on.

One female theorist who is now a part of history is Rosemary Killam, whom
I corresponded with from time to time over the years and whom I met in
person a few times, and who gave kind encouragement to women.  I am sure
that Rosemary's descendants, whom I have corresponded with, would love to
see her work in music theory and women studies remembered.

Linda Seltzer
post-enrolled grad student, Music, Princeton
Independent Consultant, Intellectual Ventures
Private tutor

> Why would you accept a paper about a theorist solely based on their
> gender? The setup is especially egregious, as the student doesn't even
> know which theorist they want to discuss, nor what their ideas might be,
> only that the subject of a music theory paper should be based on the (to
> be determined) theorist's gender.  Isn't the conclusion already written?
> The theorist-to-be-named is a. brilliant of course and a right-on sister;
> b. deliberately neglected or obscure because of patriarchal oppression.
> Do you really want to collude in this self deformation?
> MW MorseTrent UniversityPeterborough, Oshawa
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