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I'm a professor in the Humanities program (now part of the School of Humanities and Liberal Studies, of which I am currently director), where I teach undergraduate and graduate courses focusing on American culture, music and society; literary and musical modernisms; literary and cultural theory; and, when I get a chance, the culture and history of New Orleans.
My scholarly work has focused on music's place in American cultures and imaginations. In a series of articles and then my first book, Sounding Real: Musicality and American Literature at the Turn of the Twentieth Century, I explored a pivotal moment in American music (with the rise of Tin Pan Alley, ragtime, "Indianist" composers, and American divas) as it was registered by and in American fiction. I am currently working on a new book (tentively called Democratizing Music: Émigré European Modernists and American Musical Literacy) that traces the efforts of a group of avant-garde émigré musicians to inform and reform American musical literacy in the decade immediately following their arrival in the 1930s.
My interest in music stems from my lifelong practice as a violinist and chamber musician. I have a Masters in Music Performance from the New England Conservatory and worked professionally in various orchestras before, in part because of repetitive injuries to my hand, deciding to switch gears and head back to school. I received my Ph.D. from Yale in English Literature in 1997, and have been teaching at SF State ever since.