- Letter from the Editor
As I sit down to write this letter, I remain buoyed by the Women’s March on Washington, January 21, 2017. If few pundits correctly predicted Trump’s rise to power, surely equally few could have foreseen that the largest protest to take place on U.S. soil—ever—would be organized around an avowedly feminist agenda.1 In the crowd, at least from where I stood and walked, an extraordinary variety of chants rang out: supporting Black Lives Matter, reproductive and religious freedoms, indigenous rights, gay rights, trans rights, immigrants, refugees, health care, and the environment.2 Unlike many other protests in which I have participated, this was less about specific factions shouting over each other and more like a genuine acknowledgment of intersectional politics; it felt like a coalition.
I think it fair to say that a nonintersectional identity politics has reached its limit. We need to be very clear that Trump entered politics through the backdoor of “birtherism,” that he launched his campaign with a call to “build a wall,” and that the deep-seated misogyny that characterizes his actions is not separable from the white supremacism that fuels his behavior. In the early pages of his final book, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, Martin Luther King Jr. described the white backlash to the civil rights victories of the midsixties in terms that are eerily prescient: “Men long regarded as political clowns . . . became governors [even president?] or only narrowly missed election, their magic achieved with a ‘witches” brew of bigotry, prejudice, half-truths and whole lies.”3 Those who fail to learn [End Page vii] from history are doomed to repeat it? Perhaps, but as one sign I saw in D.C. put it, “Today we march, tomorrow we work!”
As I assume the editorship of Women & Music, the need for such a journal has never felt so pressing. And the content of this first issue is a welcome answer to the call to work: strongly invested in the attempt to learn our history and to think deeply and inventively about the intersectional components of oppression. Inge van Rij considers the relationship of female performance and female suffrage in colonial New Zealand, using the presence of Western art music in the Western cultural periphery to complicate the relationship of gender, sound, place, and race. Christopher Wells traces the reception of Ella Fitzgerald’s early career, calling attention to the ways in which white male jazz critics disparaged her presence and repertoire, feminizing her then bandleader, Chick Webb, and enforcing a specific narrative of black masculinity on jazz as a discipline. Rebecca Dowd Geoffroy-Schwinden uncovers evidence for the specifically politicized reception of Marie Antoinette’s musical choices, bringing an extraordinary specificity to the often vague arena of music and politics. April Prince complicates the received history of Clara Schumann through a reexamination of her portraiture, troubling the way in which Schumann’s status as exceptional woman has reinforced problematic narratives about femininity and music. Stephen Armstrong looks at how musical metaphors can be harnessed to explore gendered relationships and to represent alternative modes of intimacy. Matthew Jones considers the musical output of AIDS activist Michael Callen in terms of positive affect, resuscitating the radical possibility of hope. In addition, this issue includes poetry by Sherrie Tucker and music by Núria Bonet, Sophia Dussek (edited by Katelyn Clark), Toby Young and Jennifer Thorp, and Gigi Chi Ying Lam, forcefully articulating the importance of sound itself to our theorizing and to the ongoing labor of critical thought.
I want to take this opportunity to thank Ellie Hisama for her careful stewardship of the journal over the last three years. Ellie has been involved with Women & Music and with progressive music scholarship for many years. Her work and her testimony are an inspiration to us all.
I also want to thank the outgoing editorial board members for their strong commitment to Women & Music: Daphne Brooks, Bonnie Gordon, Elizabeth Hoffman, Tammy Kernodle, Marianne Kielian-Gilbert, Roberta Lamb, Andra McCartney, Anne Rasmussen, Emanuele Senici, Laurie Stras, and Judith Tick. I speak for both Ellie and myself when I say that your...