Issues in Ethnomusicology (Fall 2013)

From CCE wiki archived
Jump to: navigation, search

Classes: Monday 9:00-11:50AM, Arts & Convocation Hall (Old Arts Building) A 403

Instructor: Dr. Federico Spinetti

Office: 3-34A Arts & Convocation Hall; office hours: Tuesday 1:00pm-3:00pm or by appointment. Tel. 492-7534; email:

Course Description

This course examines some of the theoretical approaches that are central to current ethnomusicological research and debates, at the same time providing an overview of the historical development of the discipline. Each week, specific themes will be selected for investigation and discussion, drawing examples from a broad range of case studies. Emphasis will be placed on tracing the theoretical underpinnings of ethnomusicology and, also, on examining how theories and approaches from variety of other disciplines (such as anthropology, folklore studies, sociology, linguistics, literary studies, political science, economics) have been adopted and remodeled within an ethnomusicological context. Students will be encouraged to engage in critical thinking and maintain interpretive openness in respect of a plurality of methodological, epistemological and cultural-philosophical perspectives (functionalism and structuralism, post-structuralism, phenomenology, hermeneutics, performance theory, Marxist approaches, cultural and postcolonial studies, postmodernism and critical theory). Prerequisites


This course is for graduate students only.

Course Requirements

  • Attendance and participation: Completing each week’s readings and participating in class discussions. Completing weekly readings before coming to class is an essential requirement for this course, and you may be invited to take turns in leading the discussion on specific readings or topics.
  • Class presentations and additional exercises:

1) One class presentation (of about 10 minutes) on an individually assigned reading (generally a book). No thorough, word-by-word reading is required here: you should rather focus on extracting the theoretical perspective, general approach and main arguments of your assigned reading. It is important that you approach your assigned reading critically: try to assess its weaknesses and strengths, its purposes and biases (whether stated or not), and its contribution to the field of Ethnomusicology. Schedule of presentations to be defined in Week 1.

2) Contribution to “mapping Ethnomusicology”: you will be invited to research bibliographic, multimedia or other professional resources, and share your findings in class. DUE in Week 2.

3) Brief class presentations of your submitted written assignments (DUE in Weeks 6, 9).

  • Review essay: compare two articles of your choice from different periods: one written between 1990 and now, the other written EITHER a) between 1950 to 1970 OR b) between 1970 to 1990. Reviews should be polished, of the kind usually found in academic journals. They should include a brief summary of the reviewed works and a critical evaluation of their contribution to ethnomusicological debates and research. They should also compare the theoretical and methodological approaches of your two sources and assess to what extent their differences and/or similarities relate to broader developments in the discipline. To facilitate comparison, you may want to choose articles that have some sort of relationship, for example articles by the same author, or articles that focus on the same geo-cultural area or on similar topics. Length: 1,500 – 2,000 words. DUE in Week 6.
  • Final research paper: a written piece of research that shows your critical engagement with the issues addressed in the course. Your paper may be either theory-based or topic-based:

a) A theory-based paper should focus on one, or more than one, of the theoretical/philosophical/epistemological perspectives and research approaches addressed in the course. You should carry out an in-depth exploration of your chosen theoretical paradigm through relevant scholarly literature, situate it in the context of the history of ethnomusicology, and critically assess its position vis-à-vis other approaches discussed in this course (whether alternative or complementary). You may want to bring case studies into the discussion in order to provide examples of your theoretical paradigm at work and of its achievements and/or shortcomings.

b) A topic-based paper should focus on a specific subject matter (for example: the music of a specific geo-cultural area or community, a music tradition or genre, a general issue of interest to Ethnomusicology such as “Music and politics”, “Music and technology”, etc). You should explore your topic in depth through relevant scholarly literature, discuss how it has been approached differently from different theoretical standpoints (try to reference as many theoretical paradigms as possible from this course), and offer your suggestions/speculations about how your chosen topic may be most profitably studied in future research.

Papers must be based on existing scholarly literature, not on your own fieldwork. You should reference at least 20 scholarly works (books or articles). Length; 4,000 – 5,000. DUE DECEMBER 10.

  • Prior to your final research paper, you should submit a research paper proposal (DUE in Week 9), including

a) Provisional title

b) Short abstract (500 words)

c) Written assessment of relevant sources: who are the main authors and what are the main scholarly sources your research must be grounded on? You will need to do some bibliographic research and also check out if there are relevant online resources, forums, discussion lists, professional interest groups, etc.

d) Annotated bibliography of at least 10 of your references, briefly assessing their relevance to the focus of your research paper.

NOTE: Written assignments that do not respect the word limits set above will be downgraded by one full point on the letter grading scale (i.e. from A to A-, from A- to B+, etc). On late assignment the paragraph “Policy on Late Assignments” below.


Each assignment will be marked according to the numeric scale of evaluation given below. Individual assignment marks will be combined to obtain a final numeric grade, which will be rounded so as to obtain a corresponding final letter grade as shown below.

A = 4.0

A- = 3.7

B+ = 3.3

B = 3.0

B- = 2.7

C+ = 2.3

C = 2.0

C- = 1.7

D+ = 1.3

D = 1.0

D- = 0.7

F = 0.0

The relative weight of each assignment on the overall grade is as follows:

  • Attendance and participation: 20%
  • Class presentations and additional exercises: 20%
  • Review essay: 20%
  • Research paper proposal: 5%
  • Final research paper: 35%


There are no required textbooks for this course. However, should you wish to purchase books for this course, I recommend Ruth Stone’s Theory for Ethnomusicology (2008), as we will be using this text extensively as a reference reading. Copies should be available for purchase in the SUB Bookstore. Most class readings will be on reserve at the Social Sciences and Humanities Library or available online through the library databases. Relevant bibliographic materials that may not be available on reserve will be handed out in class or included in the course mediawiki page ( I will use the course mediawiki to post updated reading assignments and changes of schedule if required.

Attendance, Absences, and Missed Grade Components

Regular attendance is essential for optimal performance in any course. In cases of potentially excusable absences due to illness or domestic affliction, notify your instructor by e-mail within two days. Regarding absences that may be excusable and procedures for addressing course components missed as a result, consult sections 23.3(1) and 23.5.6 of the University Calendar. Be aware that unexcused absences will result in partial or total loss of the grade for the “attendance and participation” component(s) of a course, as well as for any assignments that are not handed-in or completed as a result.

In this course, attendance (coming to class) and participation (completing weekly readings and actively taking part in class discussions) are assigned equal weight (10%) on the overall grade for this component (20%).

Policy for Late Assignments

Unexcused late submissions of assignments (with the exception of the final paper) will be downgraded by one full point per day late (i.e. from A to A-, from A- to B+, etc). After 10 days late the assignment will be considered as ‘non-submitted’ (grade F). As for the final paper, no unexcused late submissions will be accepted. In cases of potentially excusable late submissions (including the final paper) due to illness, domestic affliction or other compelling circumstances, notify your instructor by e-mail or in person prior or within two days from the submission date. In these cases the instructor may grant an extension of the submission date or, if necessary, recommend to the Music Department Chair the approval of a final grade of Incomplete (IN).

Submission of Assignments

Please submit all your written assignments by email (in .doc or .docx format), including your final paper.

Specialized Support & Disability Services

If you have special needs that could affect your performance in this class, please let me know during the first week of the term so that appropriate arrangements can be made. If you are not already registered with Specialized Support & Disability Services, contact their office immediately (2-800 SUB; Email; phone 780-492-3381; WEB ).

Required Notes

“Policy about course outlines can be found in Section 23.4(2) of the University Calendar.”

Academic Integrity

“The University of Alberta is committed to the highest standards of academic integrity and honesty. Students are expected to be familiar with these standards regarding academic honesty and to uphold the policies of the University in this respect. Students are particularly urged to familiarize themselves with the provisions of the Code of Student Behaviour (online at ) and avoid any behaviour that could potentially result in suspicions of cheating, plagiarism, misrepresentation of facts and/or participation in an offence. Academic dishonesty is a serious offence and can result in suspension or expulsion from the University.”

Learning and working environment

The Faculty of Arts is committed to ensuring that all students, faculty and staff are able to work and study in an environment that is safe and free from discrimination and harassment. It does not tolerate behaviour that undermines that environment. The department urges anyone who feels that this policy is being violated to:

• Discuss the matter with the person whose behaviour is causing concern; or

• If that discussion is unsatisfactory, or there is concern that direct discussion is inappropriate or threatening, discuss it with the Chair of the Department.

For additional advice or assistance regarding this policy you may contact the student ombudservice: ( ). Information about the University of Alberta Discrimination and Harassment Policy and Procedures can be found in the GFC Policy Manual, section 44 available at .

Plagiarism and Cheating

All students should consult the “Truth-In-Education” handbook or Website ( ) regarding the definitions of plagiarism and its consequences when detected. Students involved in language courses and translation courses should be aware that on-line “translation engines” produce very dubious and unreliable “translations.” Students in language courses should be aware that, while seeking the advice of native or expert speakers is often helpful, excessive editorial and creative help in assignments is considered a form of “cheating” that violates the code of student conduct with dire consequences. An instructor or coordinator who is convinced that a student has handed in work that he or she could not possibly reproduce without outside assistance is obliged, out of consideration of fairness to other students, to report the case to the Associate Dean of the Faculty. Before unpleasantness occurs consult; also discuss this matter with any tutor(s) and with your instructor.

Recording of Lectures

Audio or video recording of lectures, labs, seminars or any other teaching environment by students is allowed only with the prior written consent of the instructor or as a part of an approved accommodation plan. Recorded material is to be used solely for personal study, and is not to be used or distributed for any other purpose without prior written consent from the instructor.

Schedule of Classes

In the list of weekly readings for this course, Reference readings indicate required readings that may or may not be discussed in class. They provide an essential background to the week’s class topic and must be completed prior to coming to class. Discussion readings indicate required readings specifically selected for class discussion. Additional readings indicate suggested readings for students who wish to expand on a particular weekly topic. Additional readings are not part of the course requirements.

The reading assignments listed below are provisional and may be rectified. Please consider the reading assignments given in class as authoritative.

Week 1 - Sept 9, 2013: Introduction to the course

Week 2 - Sept 16, 2013: DISCIPLINE

Week 3 - Sept 23, 2013: ETHNOGRAPHY

Week 4 - Sept 30, 2013: THEORY AND PRACTICE



Week 6 - Oct 21, 2013: MEANING

Week 7 - Oct 28, 2013: IDENTITY

Week 8 - Nov 4, 2013: POWER


Week 9 - Nov 18, 2013: ANALYSIS

Week 10 - Nov 25, 2013: TECHNOLOGY

Week 11 - Dec 2, 2011: HISTORY / ADVOCACY

Final Paper due December 10

Course Bibliography

Bibliography - Music 665 2013