[Smt-talk] Advocating for the humanities

Danny Jenkins jenkins.danny at gmail.com
Fri Apr 4 15:09:27 PDT 2014

Dear Dr. Whitcomb,

There are two lists, smt-announce and smt-talk. The original emails went
out to smt-announce. I do think that agents of SMT and AMS have a
responsibility to inform us through this venue when a major funding source
such as the NEH is in jeopardy. I also appreciated that Bob Judd included
information such as quotations from the original law and experiences he has
had as to what kind of arguments those in power seem to respond to. I would
feel the same way if, for example, the University of Oklahoma wanted to
shutter the Gail Boyd de Stwolinski Center for Music Theory Pedagogy. I
would want to know not only whom to write to in order to express my
concern, but I would also want as much information as possible to help me
better craft my letter.

I do not believe that everything must involve politics, but where and when
politics intersects with funding for music theory research, I think it is
the proper and responsible thing for those who study music theory to
discuss it. You make an argument that governmental funding might be
detrimental to the humanities. Perhaps others will take you up on this
point. If they do, I think smt-talk would be an appropriate place for those
who value music theory to participate in that discussion. For ultimately I
agree with you that "people should always allow for the possibility that
others might hold an opinion (and goals, and values) different from
theirs." We cannot do this if we disallow the voicing of these opinions in
the first place.

All best,
J. Daniel Jenkins
Associate Professor of Music
University of South Carolina

On Fri, Apr 4, 2014 at 2:22 PM, Whitcomb, Benjamin D <whitcomb at uww.edu>wrote:

> (1) There is a difference between informing people of a possible change in
> funding and what was sent out, especially by Dr. Judd. His was a call to
> take political action. His email compared the NEH budget with other, larger
> amounts of money, which he seemed to see an injustice. He argues as though
> the number of people with humanities degrees somehow equates to a reason
> for a particular political course of action. He talks about a certain set
> of political beliefs about the nature of Democracy that were held by a
> particular Congress forty years ago.
> (2) There are different ways to fund the humanities, or any program for
> that matter. For example, different countries fund different programs in
> many different ways, with different outcomes. Also, in some of the
> countries with the greatest funding for humanities, there has also been
> greater regulation of what is and is not acceptable to those in power,
> resulting in a reduction in intellectual diversity and liberty. Or, with
> America's history of being a great pioneer in politics, we could consider
> taking a new direction altogether. Also, does being in the humanities mean
> that we should automatically favor and seek as much government funding as
> possible, or are there limits and trade-offs? (But again, does this
> discussion belong on the SMT list?)
> To Dr. Jenkins: How would it be irresponsible to keep political
> discussions out of the SMT list? Isn't the responsibility of the list to
> facilitate discussions of music theory? In your opinion, is there no place
> at all for a list dedicated only to the discussion of one subject, such as
> music theory, or must everything also involve politics?
> To Dr. Jablonsky: Your call for a "war on ignorance" should hopefully send
> chills down most readers' spines. In your war, would you eliminate all
> opposing points of view? What would you do to people who chose not to be
> "educated" with whatever ideas you would force on them? How many other such
> wars (i.e., war on poverty, war on drugs) have started with good intentions
> and then only made matters worse?
> Humans are not omniscient. As such, ideally people should always allow for
> the possibility that others might hold an opinion (and goals, and values)
> different from theirs, and that they are entitled to them.
> Again, how about saving SMT list for the discussion or music theory?
> -Benjamin
> Dr. Benjamin Whitcomb
> Professor of Cello and Music Theory
> University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
> www.benjaminwhitcomb.com<http://www.benjaminwhitcomb.com/>
> ________________________________
> From: smt-talk-bounces at lists.societymusictheory.org [
> smt-talk-bounces at lists.societymusictheory.org] on behalf of Stephen
> Jablonsky [jablonsky at optimum.net]
> Sent: Friday, April 04, 2014 10:40 AM
> To: Danny Jenkins
> Cc: Smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org
> Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] Advocating for the humanities
> This is not a political issue. It is a matter of civics. The money that
> the Federal Government spends is our money and it behooves every citizen to
> be aware of how it is being spent or misspent. An enlightened electorate
> needs all the information it can get, especially in an age when main stream
> media seems more concerned with entertainment than edification. How we act
> on that information is a matter of personal conviction. I, for one, would
> love our government to declare war on ignorance.
> Dr. Stephen Jablonsky, Ph.D.
> Music Department Chair
> The City College of New York
> Shepard Hall Room 72
> New York NY 10031
> (212) 650-7663
> music at ccny.cuny.edu<mailto:music at ccny.cuny.edu>
> America's Greatest Chair
> in the low-priced field
> On Apr 4, 2014, at 9:32 AM, Danny Jenkins <jenkins.danny at gmail.com<mailto:
> jenkins.danny at gmail.com>> wrote:
> I think it is completely proper for the Executive Directors of SMT and AMS
> to inform the membership of these organizations--organizations that were
> founded to promote the study of music theory and musicology--when a major
> funding source for research in these fields has been marked for elimination
> from the Federal budget. In fact, it would be irresponsible to do otherwise.
> All best,
> J. Daniel Jenkins
> Associate Professor of Music
> University of South Carolina
> _______________________________________________
> Smt-talk mailing list
> Smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org<mailto:
> Smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org>
> http://lists.societymusictheory.org/listinfo.cgi/smt-talk-societymusictheory.org
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.societymusictheory.org/pipermail/smt-talk-societymusictheory.org/attachments/20140404/6f4248b8/attachment-0003.htm>

More information about the Smt-talk mailing list