The trouble with the trouble with wilderness
Sustainable Music
by Jeff Todd Titon
3M ago
Roaring Falls, Glacier Bay National Park. Courtesy National Park Service.       Toward the end of the last century, William Cronon deconstructed the prevailing definition of American wilderness, as nature apart from the influence of humankind. Henry Nash Smith's Virgin Land (1950) summed up the role that the myth of the frontier, as unexplored and unsettled wilderness, had played in American life. As long as American settlers, Cronon argued, had conceived of the American frontier as wilderness, the land was available for possession and settlement. The trouble ..read more
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Keeping Track of Writing Projects -- end of 2023
Sustainable Music
by Jeff Todd Titon
6M ago
Robert Winslow Gordon, founder of the Archive of American Folk Song, c. 1923, examining an archeological artifact in California. Courtesy of the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress An update to keep track of my writing projects has become an annual event. Since my last update, on Dec. 28, 2022, which writing projects have progressed, which have been published, and which have seemingly stagnated? On my academia.edu page and also in my twitter (now X) profile @jefftoddtiton I suggest that readers who want to know the answer to the question “What research and writing are you w ..read more
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Balance of Nature as Ecological Imaginary (AFS presentation)
Sustainable Music
by Jeff Todd Titon
7M ago
   On Saturday, November 4, our DERT (Diverse Environmental Research Team) group led a forum at the American Folklore Society annual conference on the subject of Ecological Imaginaries. My brief presentation was on the idea of the balance of nature as a Euro-American ecological imaginary. Here's what I said:       I want to speak about one of Euro-America’s enduring myths, the ecological imaginary that is called the balance of nature. By myth here I don’t mean something supernatural. I mean a metanarrative that imbues history with teleology; that is, nature e ..read more
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Sustainable Colleges and Universities: the Maine problem
Sustainable Music
by Jeff Todd Titon
11M ago
The University of Southern Maine   Public education is under fire in Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Arkansas and elsewhere from political figures who have been trying to implement a conservative curriculum. The Florida controversy over the Advanced Placement course in African American History is but one example of many. Media stories have highlighted the activities of consultant Christopher Rufo, of Hillsdale College, and other individuals and organizations with a conservative educational agenda.   Thankfully, this political infection hasn't spread to the state of Maine bu ..read more
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Mid-year update on a couple of writing projects
Sustainable Music
by Jeff Todd Titon
1y ago
    Two of my long-term writing projects are finishing up now: a book that has been in production at the publisher (Oxford University Press) for several months, and the other (an article to be published early in 2024 in the Journal of American Folklore) has just undergone copyediting.     The book, Sounds, Ecologies, Musics, which I've co-edited with Aaron Allen, now has a website. Rather than describe the book and contributing authors here, may I suggest that readers check out the website where that information is available? Regarding the production, it's been a ..read more
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Will orcas sink whale-watching boats because of noise pollution?
Sustainable Music
by Jeff Todd Titon
1y ago
  Orca whales jumping. Photo by Robert Pittman, Wikimedia Commons.             Even if they haven't read the novel, most everyone knows the ending of Moby-Dick: the white whale sinks Captain Ahab's whaling boat, the Pequod, and all perish save Ishmael, who survives to tell the tale. So it may not have been entirely surprising to hear recent news reports of orcas (killer whales) attacking and seriously damaging fishing boats--already twelve boats this year. As it happens orcas have been well studied by not only by biologists ..read more
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Global Webinar: Why I Do Applied Ethnomusicology. May 4 & 11, 2023.
Sustainable Music
by Jeff Todd Titon
1y ago
Jeff Titon (electric guitar, left) and Lazy Bill Lucas (electric piano, right) performing at the People's Park, Dinkytown, Minneapolis, 1970. My work in applied ethnomusicology was an outgrowth of my friendship with Bill Lucas.            The Applied Ethnomusicology Section of the Society for Ethnomusicology is sponsoring a global webinar, May 4 & 11, on the subject, "Why I Do Applied Ethnomusicology." Three speakers will be presenting, each for 20 minutes, followed by 10 minutes for questions. I was invited to be one of the speakers. I had ..read more
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Spring Peepers: Sounds as Environmental Health Indicators
Sustainable Music
by Jeff Todd Titon
1y ago
  Looking for frogs in a vernal pool     Spring is the season to hear the "spring peepers," the frogs and toads and in some places, salamanders, singing their mating sounds and vibrating the waters in the wetland vernal pools that appear in the spring with the snow melt and rain, and disappear in the dry summer weather. As it happens, an article by Margaret Renkl that appeared four days ago in the New York Times called attention these spring peepers. They're able to mate and their offspring to mature in these pools because of the absence of fish--indeed, these eph ..read more
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Music, Sound and Nature
Sustainable Music
by Jeff Todd Titon
1y ago
I begin with a bit of news: FeedSpot has selected Sustainable Music as one of the fifteen best musicology blogs and websites. I appreciate their recognition of this blog, maintained since 2008. What follows now is a short introduction, for high school and first-year college students, to the topic of music, sound and nature. I wonder if ChatGPT would produce anything similar. I plan to find out. In any case, I wrote this essay in 2019 and have just now imported it into this blog, but I can't seem to overcome the strange formatting triggered by the endnote numbers in the text. So be it, and my s ..read more
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Nature writing: ethnography, travel literature, and literary ethnography (2)
Sustainable Music
by Jeff Todd Titon
1y ago
  Writing near the Tagus River, Portugal, by Pedro Simōes. Wikimedia commons. The editorial introduction to the section of the Norton Anthology of American Literature (9th ed., 2016) that contains “Ethnographic and Naturalist Writings” calls the former “literary ethnography” (instead of travel literature, the normal term) and in so doing suggests that in some sense the latter (i.e., nature writing) is also ethnographic. To be sure, the writings of natural historians are descriptive and may be systematic and scientific, just as anthropological ethnography is. But, strictly speaki ..read more
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