AMS 2009 has been rounded up a bit already, most notably by Ryan Banagale and Drew Massey over at amusicology, so I won’t dwell on sessions and the mega-party on Saturday night. Here’s what piqued my interest:
- The huge turnouts for the “alternative format” sessions, which were really sessions of committees and interest groups that are usually relegated to the 8-11 slot of death.
These sessions ended up being standing-room only in a lot of cases. I attended the session on the Committee on the Status of Women, during which several past chairs of the CSW spoke about what the CSW had achieved in the past and where it should be headed now. I feel very strongly that the AMS still needs the CSW, and that the CSW needs to do some research into how women are represented in the profession and at the annual meeting. AMS President Jane Bernstein noted that 45% of the presenters at AMS 2009 were female, and that’s great but we don’t know a lot of other important things. What kinds of institutions women are working at? Is the parity between teaching colleges and R1s? What is the rate for tenure among women in musicology? What kind of publication rates are there for women? Is research on women in music still considered a niche by tenure and publication committees? (I hope not; that’s where I live.) What kind of support are women getting for research and pedagogical projects? Judith Tick brought up the issue of greater internationalism in the AMS, which led to the questions of how to address race, class, and cultural difference. How can the AMS work with groups like the IAWM (which had a terrible turnout the last time it hosted an AMS reception, for reasons I don’t understand at all) to better support women in the field?
[During the CSW session I wondered whether the AMS should hold meetings in states that do not allow same-sex marriage. The AMS once dropped a conference in Cincinnati because of the city's censorship of a Maplethorp exhibit. I would fully support not giving conference business to states with anti-gay marriage laws on the books, and I imagine many AMS members would also do so. Why should AMS members travel to and spend money in states that do not recognize their equality?]
This just touches on a small amount the session’s discussion. I’ve asked ALCS member societies about their committees on women in their disciplines, which I’ll send along to Susan Cook and incoming CSW chair Bonnie Gordon in a week or so.
I know that the Pedagogy Study Group session was also very popular. The PSG has gone from a small interest group to a major entity in its few years of existence, and it’s no surprise to see it draw such a big crowd. The role of pedagogy within the discipline is here to stay, to the great benefit of instructors both new and veteran.
In sum, the “alternative format” sessions seemed hugely popular. I know that conference spaces are booked 3-4 or more years in advance, and so I expected crowded rooms for a while yet. But when it comes time to book future venues, I hope the AMS will be able to get bigger rooms for these important panels.
- The AMS on the internet
As a member of the AMS-L moderating team, I attend the Committee on Communications meeting. What struck me this year was the online interest in AMS-related events and information, and the AMS’s plans for more online stuff, including podcasts of interviews with members, winners of AMS prizes, etc. The Library of Congress lectures are getting 1600-200 hits each, which indicates that members and the interested public are watching. There are also great resources for teaching on YouTube and iTunesU that the AMS may link to. My students, at least, love short video clips, so I can’t wait until the day I can begin my Intro to Musicology course with podcasts of Susan McClary or J. Peter Burkholder or Mark Evan Bonds talking about musicology.
- The results of the 2008 meeting survey & the Council meeting
Ok, it wasn’t really a survey, but the open invitation to write to the meeting planning committee with preferences, suggestions, and complaints about the annual meeting. While Honey Meconi, who presented on this at the Council meeting, didn’t have statistics, she did provide a great overview of the comments, which were predictably all over the map. I’m not comfortable disclosing all of the discussion that went on, but I’m pleased that the committee really took the feedback seriously and is looking at making changes to make the annual meeting more dynamic and inclusive.
I was new to the Council last year and observed the STFU rule then (although I certainly don’t think it’s necessary for new members), just learning how it worked, but I felt comfortable speaking up this year and asking questions and making comments. I wish more Council members participated actively in the meeting–there are an awful lot of folks who I’ve now seen go through two years of meetings without ever voicing an opinion or bringing up a concern. Maybe those folks were the ones who didn’t talk in class, either. AMS members who are not on the Council should be able to go up to Council members with concerns and ideas and trust that the Council member will pass those things on; for Council members to be effective, obviously, they have to be involved. It’s not just the first step in serving in other AMS roles–it’s an opportunity to influence policy in ways you believe in. So Council members, speak up!
I think that covers it, except for fashion, which I’ll get to in a later post. Really, see-through tops and dandruff are not your friends at these meetings, people.