- Introduction:Some Practical And Ethical Considerations For Integrating Digital Humanities And Music Pedagogy
The recital flyer of clarinetist and Stony Brook graduate student Kathryn Vetter went semi-viral on Twitter. In it, one sees her serene smile while posing with her instrument, across which the title appears: "A Celebration of Men Composers."1 Further down in the thread, like a good student of race and gender theory, she expertly deploys a familiar kind of trope when she claims that she "[doesn't] usually like music by men, but there's something different about [this white man's] music!"2 What is jarring, and consequently funny about her social media post relates to a problem music catalogers are well aware of, and which Sanford Berman described fifty years ago.3 Our ways of referring to people, creators especially, tend to reflect the dominant Western, white, Christian, heterosexual, abled male order. By taking the category descriptor—composers—and appending that unspoken and wholly anomalous adjective, Vetter shows us an effective way of challenging that order and drawing attention to the inaccuracy and obsolescence of its frames. Her whimsical title jolts the familiar ground under our feet and invites reflection on an imaginary time and place in which any number of doors might open and, as a consequence, the world would look quite different.
What does this anecdote mean in connection with the subject of our special issue on digital humanities and music pedagogy? Truthfully, digital humanities (DH) has as much of a diversity and discrimination [End Page 503] problem as any other field of scholarly inquiry, but recent shifts in the field have led to an increased focus on structural power dynamics, advocacy, community engagement, recovery, and remediation. Recent works of scholarship like Catherine D'Ignazio and Lauren Klein's Data Feminism and Roopika Risam and Kelly Baker Josephs's forthcoming The Digital Black Atlantic, and projects such as Torn Apart / Separados illustrate the current zeitgeist. Fundamental to this shift is a desire to ensure that the field of DH engages meaningfully with the world and helps to illuminate injustices and alleviate the heightened precarity of our age. Given that many, if not most, DH projects are open access, they occupy a powerful position within the field of scholarly publishing, where preoccupations with canon and prestige need not be paramount. With enough technical and disciplinary skill, digital humanists can imagine and create a different sort of world, one in which infrastructures, systems, and standards are interrogated just as often as they are built and amended. This work frequently starts in the classroom, which brings me to the second part of our topic. If we accept that pedagogy is an important and safe place to debut new ideas and approaches, then what is it about digital culture that we want our students to learn? What do we want to learn?
The articles in this issue are wonderfully dissimilar to each other, emphasizing the plurality of choices that are possible in this space. If they share something in common, it may be the goal that students have better options when it comes to the discoverability of sources, and an ability to investigate their research questions from a variety of theoretical and practical orientations. The authors make clear that they want students to take a critical eye to their information landscape, to be able to identify information and research gaps, and, with the requisite motivation and skill, to intervene in those gaps. Also voiced is a desire for less discipline and subject orthodoxy and more collective and collaborative action among librarians and disciplinary faculty. The inevitability of engaging with digital data in modern life adds a pulse of urgency to understanding the intersections of music and digital technology. The ramifications of this work go beyond teaching transferable skills, although these are certainly welcome. Our ethical and professional commitments to ourselves, our colleagues, our students, and our publics require serious engagement with the transformations of digital data into meaning.
Timothy Duguid's article begins by asking where we are with the adoption of digital technology and digital humanities research methods, and sees pedagogy as an important site of disciplinary transformation. Through an examination...