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Volume 26, Number 7 — July 2019

Ethnomusicologist to serve as ETSU's Basler Chairholder in spring

Dr. Jeff Titon
Dr. Jeff Titon

January 12, 2016

JOHNSON CITY Dr. Jeff Todd Titon will be in residence at East Tennessee State University as chairholder of the Wayne G. Basler Chair of Excellence in the Arts, Rhetoric and Science during the spring 2016 semester.

Titon, an ethnomusicologist, is a professor of music emeritus at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, where he taught from 1986 until his retirement in 2013.

Since then, he has continued research, lecturing and writing. His current work is focused on bioacoustics and ecomusicology, with essays published in "Current Directions in Ecomusicology" (Routledge, 2015) and forthcoming in the new British journal Sound Studies.

Titon's collaborative fieldwork with Old Regular Baptists in eastern Kentucky, begun in 1990 when he was Goode Visiting Professor of Appalachian Studies at Berea College, is ongoing and has helped the group conserve its music, which represents the oldest English-language oral tradition of religious music in the United States. It has also yielded several essays and two CDs for Smithsonian Folkways, one of which was selected this year for permanent recognition on the National Recording Registry.

He is the author or editor of eight books, the most recent of which is the "Oxford Handbook of Applied Ethnomusicology" (Oxford University Press, 2015). Others include "Early Downhome Blues," which won an ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award; "Worlds of Music," which has been released in six editions since 1984 and has been translated into Italian and Chinese; and "Powerhouse for God," a book, record and documentary film about religious practice in Virginia's northern Blue Ridge. He also maintains a blog on sound and sustainability at

Titon holds a B.A. from Amherst College and both an M.A. in English and a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Minnesota. He taught English, folklore and ethnomusicology at Tufts University before joining the Brown University faculty, and has held numerous visiting professorships through the years. His research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

As the Basler chairholder, Titon will teach "Religion in Appalachia" and "Ethnomusicology and Appalachia" in the Department of Appalachian Studies and deliver a series of four free public lectures. These talks, in which he will explore sound and sociality and propose a sound ecology, will include "A Presence of Sound" on Feb. 9, "A Community of Sound" on March 1, "An Economy of Sound" on March 29 and "An Ecology of Sound" on April 19. Each lecture begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Ball Hall auditorium.

Created in 1994, the Wayne G. Basler Chair of Excellence for the Integration of the Arts, Rhetoric and Science is named in honor of a longtime member of the ETSU Foundation who is a strong advocate of programs at the university and has a deep commitment to the liberal arts.

The Chair of Excellence brings a variety of scholars to the community to broaden opportunities for students and the general public in the arts, humanities and science. Titon's research and writing in music, folklore, religious studies, ecomusicology, soundscape ecology and bioacoustics exemplifies the integration of the arts, humanities and sciences represented by the Basler Chair.

The Department of Appalachian Studies at ETSU is the only full academic department devoted to the study of the Appalachian region and is one of only two institutions to offer a master's degree in the field. The department also includes the world's first bachelor of arts degree in Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music, as well as a study abroad program in Scotland and Ireland.

For more information, call the Department of Appalachian Studies at 423-439-7072. For disability accommodations, call the ETSU Office of Disability Services at 423-439-8346.

A! ExtraTopics: Music