Changing Definitions And Widening Borders

Feminist theorists of music have long argued that the discipline of musicology is inherently conservative. These scholars have pointed to the location of women in the “reproductive sphere” as singers, rather than the more active and creative position of composers. These scholars have also noted how much of music transmits masculine themes.

Certainly the work of a number of scholars of the Gulf South have made similar findings in their emphasis on women as singers and piano players. However, as the earlier chapters have shown, women musicians have crossed many borders, and completed varied and lasting work, which has been reproduced by others. In addition their work is beginning to enter the older traditional archives and the new digital archives at rates similar to those of men.

Contemporary questions concern asking about the platforms of transmission-those born-digital and those in paper and other earlier forms. Just as the study of women enlivened the curriculum in ways that would never have seemed possible in the 1950s and 1960s, bringing to the forefront creative ways of exploring what seemed to be missing from the historical records, today we have the chance to ask about the materials of learning themselves. Are they biased? And if so, how do we tell of this bias? Is our own finding of bias, biased? Archivists maintain information about their holdings and their finding aids in order to keep visible and transparent the contexts of each collection’s creation. How can we do a better job about telling about the circumstances of the creations of documents and other manifestations of music on paper, in recordings, and in visual and digital materials?

On the more philosophical level, the very definition of archives is centered around the care of unique materials, one-of-a-kind documents. How does this definition change when materials are reproduced online, and/or are born digital, born then to be reproduced in some fashion? The question becomes one then of also teaching about the value of originals, a teaching that all the arts have long promoted.