Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Stone Center Welcomes Greenleaf Distinguished Visiting Professor Susan Thomas

October 6th, 2015

Susan Thomas is a Greenleaf Visiting Scholar for 2015-2016. She is regularly an Associate Professor of Musicology and Women’s Studies at the University of Georgia. This fall, she is teaching a seminar titled “Vocality in Latin American Popular Music.” This course approaches Latin American popular music through an examination of some of its most iconic voices and the bodies that produce them and explores how those voices are consumed and understood by listeners. Voice/vocality studies is a rapidly growing field that has drawn scholars from performance studies, musicology and ethnomusicology, queer studies, critical race theory, and various psychoanalytic approaches. The field has developed, however, with a strong North American and European focus and this course takes the opportunity to present students with new theoretical and analytical models and apply them to Latin American popular music, music that is often inseparable from the idiosyncratic voices that front it.

A specialist in Cuban music and music and gender studies, Thomas is the author of Cuban Zarzuela: Performing Race and Gender on Havana’s Lyric Stage, which was awarded the Robert M. Stevenson Prize for studies in Latin American and Iberian music from the American Musicological Society as well as the Pauline Alderman Award from the International Alliance for Women in Music. Her many publications cover a variety of Latin American topics, including Cuban popular music, music and film, musical cartographies, diaspora and transnationalism, and music and colonialism. She is currently completing a book titled The Musical Mangrove: The Transnationalization of Cuban Alternative Music, which examines the last two decades of popular music from a transnational perspective. Thomas has held multiple research fellowships including the Santander Visiting Scholar at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University.

At Tulane, she will be beginning work on a new project to explore the mid-century tradition of filin (feeling), the jazz-inflected bolero tradition from Cuba that flourished throughout the Circum-Caribbean. Exploring filin through the multiple actors who shaped it (composers, poets, singers, instrumentalists, and sound engineers), the research examines filin’s role as a cosmopolitan crucible for the formation of a musical, poetic, and embodied discourse capable of expressing the shared experiences of nostalgia, longing, desire, power, and resistance as lived on the margins of late capitalism.

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Dave Davis
Professor Emeritus - Director, Institutional Research
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