Mark Greif’s “What’s Wrong with Public Intellectuals?” gets at the issues that are also keeping the supposedly quite new area of “public musicology” about forty to eighty years behind the times: http://chronicle.com/article/Whats-Wrong-With-Public/189921/
“A large pool of disgruntled free-thinking people who are not actually starving, gathered in many local physical centers, whose vocation leads them to amass an enormous quantity of knowledge and skill in disputation, and who possess 24-hour access to research libraries, might be the most publicly argumentative the world has known.”
That might actually work if the 83% of PhDs who never land permanent, full-time academic positions actually had 24-hour access to research libraries. I certainly have no such access myself, and neither does most of that “large pool.” Also, my attempt at a collaborative website for public music history & culture, OurMus.Net, did not succeed for reasons similar to the difficulty Greif and his colleagues at n+1 had in soliciting useful public writing from early-career academics. Most such people simply don’t know how to write for anyone other than themselves. That has got to change.
A positive, substantial review of Experiencing Rush: A Listener’s Companion (and my colleague Gregg Akkerman’s Experiencing Led Zeppelin) appeared in the Cleveland Music Examiner on February 11. See: http://www.examiner.com/review/listener-s-companion-series-to-help-fans-experience-led-zeppelin-rush-anew.
Excerpts: “While Bowman’s Rush reader need not be versed in theory, it nonetheless helps to keep one’s thinking cap on for his fascinating forage into what is arguably the world’s foremost intellectual rock band. … [T]he real success of the series is in the way the books rekindle readers’ interest in the subject matter by shedding light on the musical minutiae that might’ve escaped one’s attention till now. We knew these artists were good, but perhaps we couldn’t articulate precisely why. These authors effectively take reader / listeners undercover to view the musicians working all those levers behind the curtain. And it’s in their study and scholarly elucidation of all this musical sorcery that we arrive at a more profound understanding of (and appreciation for) the wizards responsible.”
At the Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton, New Jersey, I just presented “The Untapped Doctoral Majority of Potential Public Musicologists” at a conference about the Past, Present, and Future of #PublicMusicology. The paper went fine, and a number of people thanked me for being honest about my experiences and thoughts re musicology and my attempts at doing public music history & culture independently.
From other presentations and discussions, I also have some new ideas about things I can try in order to proceed, such as arranging for visiting scholar (though unpaid) status at a university, looking into more-mainstream presses as venues for my future books, and submitting things to a just-launched web-based forum for short articles (The Avid Listener; there is some money for them) meant for students and others.
I saw people I knew in earlier periods (up to fifteen years ago, in one case), met a number of people I knew of but hadn’t met before, and got to know some others for the first time.
My proposal for “Experiencing Peter Gabriel: A Listener’s Companion” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015) follows hot on the heels of “Experiencing Rush: A Listener’s Companion” (2014). I’ve also proposed several related papers (on Gabriel’s less mainstream music, including early Genesis) for some popular music conferences in 2015. In addition, I have a paper accepted about the untapped doctoral majority of potential public musicologists for a conference in Princeton, NJ on January 31, 2015.
Re the CBC’s Most university undergrads now taught by poorly paid part-timers (includes an embedded player of the radio documentary):
Having a large part-time workforce of adjunct instructors is not an unfortunate consequence of under-funding universities. It is a planned consequence of higher education trying to sustain too many programs, taking in too many students, and having way more non-faculty employees (administrators, etc.) than it has tenure-track and tenured faculty members. Pat Rogers (of Wilfrid Laurier University) and Ken Coates (of the University of Saskatchewan, formerly of the University of Waterloo) have basically given up on higher education actually being for education. “Saving money” for student residence climbing walls and whirlpools is now the priority, even though money is not actually saved, because of hiring a new administrator for every little thing.
The “statistic” about an adjunct (a.k.a., contingent, sessional, etc.) instructor making $28,000 to $45,000 a year for teaching the same number of courses (four) as a faculty member making $80,000-$150,000 is misleading. Most adjunct faculty do not teach full-time: I typically made around $16,500 for three courses per year. Even as a Visiting Assistant Professor, I only made $22,000 for four courses. Maybe things are different in STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Math), but adjunct instructors and faculty members in most disciplines simply do not make the kind of money indicated. Also, numerous Ph.D.s eventually leave academia and become things like school bus drivers, real estate agents, yoga instructors, and welfare recipients. Some of us also publish books and articles, present papers at academic conferences, and so on, but none of that provides a living wage. Writing usually works out to less than minimum wage (not to mention that it’s only a part-time venture), and, in fact, presenting at conferences costs money. Usually, it’s just faculty members who can get conference travel funds.
Most adjunct instructors continue to hold out hope for landing permanent academic positions, and they thus resist saying much about their circumstances of low pay, limited or no office use, no benefits, no pensions, and so on. Conversely, most tenured and tenure-track professors won’t go on record on this issue, either, because they would almost invariably appear to be unsympathetic. So, documentaries such as this one end up having to interview administrators, even though the over-hiring and over-prioritizing of them is one of the main problems in higher education today. If you don’t believe that this is an issue, see also the Huffington Post’s New Analysis Shows Problematic Boom In Higher Ed Administrators.