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Black Music and the American University: Eileen Southern’s Story

By Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study

Thursday, April 7, 2022 4pm

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Thursday, April 7, 2022 4pm

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Join us for the second of two one-hour webinars exploring the legacy of Eileen Southern.

In 1976, Eileen Southern (1920–2002) became the first African American woman tenured in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS). Five years before her FAS appointment, Southern published “The Music of Black Americans: A History,” a now legendary text that marked a historic intervention into the European-dominated field of musicology. The book is a densely researched survey of African American music.

Southern also founded and edited the academic journal, ”The Black Perspective in Music,” which burst into the field of musicology during an era when its signature publications were focused on European traditions. At the same time, Southern played an important institutional role at Harvard. She was central in developing the Department of Afro-American Studies (now African and African American Studies), serving as an early chair, and was on the faculty of the Department of Music.

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