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THEME lecture: Elizabeth Wells: The Jewish Westside Story

Friday, October 11, 2019 - 3:30pm
Elizabeth Wells, Mount Alison University

Many people do not realize that this famous musical was originally about warring Catholics vs. Jews on Manhattan’s East Side.  This talk explores the Jewish vestiges that remain in the mambo-inflected musical and what that tells us about American culture at mid-century.”

Guest Speaker: Elizabeth Wells

Elizabeth Wells earned her Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Toronto with a concentration in History and Literature of Music. She then pursued a career in public broadcasting, working as a music programmer and producer of a classical music programs for CJRT-FM in Toronto. In 1993, she entered the graduate program in musicology at the Eastman School of Music. Her dissertation, entitled West Side Story(s): Perspectives on a Great American Musical,has been supported by the three dissertation fellowships, including the AMS-50 Dissertation Fellowship awarded annually to the most promising doctoral research in musicology in North America. In 2011 a book version was published by Scarecrow Press.

Wells has read papers on musicology and music history pedagogy at national and international conferences, including meetings of Feminist Theory and Music, the American Musicological Society and the International Musicological Society. In addition, she has given guest lectures and has been an invited speaker on musical theatre, most notably at Harvard University. She has twice won the “Best Student Paper” from the New York State/St. Lawrence Chapter of the AMS. Her work has been published in Cambridge Opera Journal and the Journal of the American Musicological Society.

Before coming to Mount Allison, she taught music history at Mansfield University in Pennsylvania, the State University of New York at Geneseo, and the Eastman School of Music. In 2008 she won the Tucker Teaching Award, Mount Allison’s highest recognition of teaching excellence, and the Association of Atlantic Universities’ Distinguished Teacher Award. She was named a 3M National Teaching Fellow in 2010. She currently serves as the Chair of the Council of 3M National Teaching Fellows.

Her research interests include music history pedagogy, British musical theatre of the 1950s, and American musical theatre at mid-century. She has developed innovative courses including one on the Beatles and a course supported by the Vice-President’s Curricular Innovation fund entitled “Music and Difference,” which addresses music’s role in mediating and expressing difference.

Series Background

THEME: A colloquium of UW faculty and students of Theory, History, Ethnomusicology, and Music Education held on select Friday afternoons during Autumn Quarter. 

Upcoming Events in This Series

Friday, Oct. 25
Marie McCarthy (University of Michigan)
Storying a More Inclusive History of Music Education: An Imperative, a Challenge, a Promise

Friday, Nov. 15
Catherine Appert (Cornell University)
Diasporic Flows: Voicing Social Change in Hip Hop Time

Friday, Dec. 6
Shannon Dudley (University of Washington)
Bridging Campus and Community Through Participatory Arts.

All sessions are from 3:30 to 5 pm in the Fishbowl Conference Room (Music Room 101).