[Smt-talk] Advocating for the humanities

Whitcomb, Benjamin D whitcomb at uww.edu
Tue Apr 8 04:55:11 PDT 2014

Hello Dr. Berry,

No, I am talking about NEH. It is not hard to find examples online of projects that they have funded that many people would consider wasteful, although many of the folks on this list might not consider any of them to be. But, no, I don't think that does affect the argument at hand. 

Do you think that it is desirable to have a discussion list dedicated only to the discussion of music theory?


If there is a benefit to having political discussions on this fourm, is it outweighed by the costs of driving away some of the members?


Dr. Benjamin Whitcomb
Professor of Cello and Music Theory
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

From: smt-talk-bounces at lists.societymusictheory.org [smt-talk-bounces at lists.societymusictheory.org] on behalf of David Carson Berry [david.berry at uc.edu]
Sent: Tuesday, April 08, 2014 4:01 AM
To: smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org
Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] Advocating for the humanities

Hello all,

It may not matter too much to some of the arguments advanced previously,
but still: Are we sure we're all on the same page as to which agency
we're discussing/debating?

Broadly speaking, it's the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) that
has stirred controversy in the past (e.g., through Serrano's P*** Christ
and Mapplethorpe's photography -- both, by the way, from a
quarter-century ago, though often referenced as if they were yesterday's

On the other hand, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) --
the agency we are allegedly discussing -- has not been the subject of
such controversies (real or manufactured).

An example: Many of us -- still today -- consult microfilms of old U.S.
newspapers, and marvel at the continued availability of what was once
considered ephemera. And yet, there was no financial incentive (read:
free-market reason) to catalog and preserve many of these (very local)
papers. Instead, it was done to ensure that an important part of
America's history would continue to be available to its citizens. And
who helped fund the so-called United States Newspaper Program? The NEH.
(They are now helping to fund a National Digital Newspaper Program, by
the way.)

I write the above not to condemn the NEA with the same hand I’m using to
extol the NEH, but rather to point out that the two agencies are quite
different. Music theory is part of the humanities, and the work the NEH
funds goes to our core mission without -- as far as I know -- the
concomitant contentions (and "political" discourse) of NEA funding.


David Carson Berry, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Music Theory
University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music
Email: david.berry at uc.edu

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