Professor of Music
Professor Miller's book, Carriacou String Band Serenade: Performing Identity in the Eastern Caribbean (Wesleyan University Press, 2008) examines social and political change through the performance of traditional music, song, and dance in Carriacou. Miller also has conducted fieldwork in Ireland as a Whiting Fellow (2006-2009) on popular Irish showband music for an upcoming book length project. As a public sector folklorist, she has documented and presented the traditional arts from a number of immigrant and refugee communities throughout the United States. Her work has culminated in publications, recordings, festivals, radio, and video documentaries.
Miller is the producer of the award-winning public radio series "Old Traditions-New Sounds" and is the co-producer/writer of the documentary video "From Shore To Shore: Irish Traditional Music in New York City." A fiddler, she plays southern old-time string band music, French-Canadian music, Irish music, and klezmer, and she performs regularly throughout New England.
This course focuses on American southern old-time string band music, bluegrass, and early country song. We draw on cultural theory to explore the development of these musics throughout the 20th/21st centuries as well as the influences of African-American musical expression, class, gender, and music revivalism. We will consider old time and bluegrass both from an historical perspective and ethnographically as vital forms of folk expression in communities today. The course will include weekly reading/listening assignments, occasional film screenings, written assignments based on the reading, and midterm and final essays. If possible and depending on logistics, we will include an optional performance component: interested students will learn to play old time music by ear and develop a repertoire of traditional dance music. Prior experience with old time music is not necessary, but a working knowledge of one of the following acoustic instruments is required: fiddle (violin), cello, banjo, guitar, upright bass, mandolin, harmonica, ukulele, and others. (music, ethnomusicology, American studies, performance, race, class, gender)
Time and Narrative: Pandemics: Main Question: How do people, communities, and cultures understand, make sense of, and react to pandemics, both historically and now, given COVID-19? Course Description: The shock of suffering and death from the COVID-19 pandemic prompts many to speak of it as unprecedented. In fact, there have been many instances of global pandemics, from the Bubonic Plague of the Middle Ages to the Great Influenza of 1918 to the AIDS pandemic beginning in the 1980s. This class will examine historical, social, cultural, and scientific perspectives on how humans have understood and reacted to infectious disease across cultures and centuries and will provide insight as we seek to reconstruct our lives and societies. We will also investigate how our own particular identity and positionality lead to different consequences for each of us.This transdisciplinary course will involve research, hands-on investigation, and creative expression. We will focus on pandemics from multiple perspectives - biology, epidemiology, and public health policy, as well as history, politics, ethnography, oral history, literature, and other expressive arts. Students will undertake individualized study-analyze scientific data, conduct research in archives and via social media, interview pandemic survivors, and other projects -- and reflect on their own experiences and collectively share their findings through public forums, media, scholarship, creative writing, and journalism. Approaches: #epidemiology, #publicHealth, #history, #journalism, #ethnography
In this course, we will learn how to produce music pieces for public radio. We will first learn the basics of traditional radio journalism, including reporting, recording, scriptwriting, production, and the effective use of music and ambient sound. Students will then produce three music-related pieces, including a vox pop, CD review, and a documentary feature in a style consistent with public radio. Students will also gain a working knowledge of sound editing techniques using ProTools software. In addition to workshopping students' projects in class, we will discuss weekly reading and listening assignments that introduce students to creative public radio pieces focusing on music. Students can borrow digital recorders, microphones, and other equipment from Media Services.