Please meet Dr. Joel Haney from the Music program.
What is your field of study?
My training is in historical musicology (music history), and my research focuses on music in Germany between the World Wars, especially the music and thinking of the performer and composer, Paul Hindemith. Hindemith was a dynamo and thrived on the exhilaration that can come with vigorous music-making. He wrote a lot of music for amateur performers to use, despite his rise to prominence as a composer of “difficult” modernist music in the 1920s. He and many others at the time were concerned that people were becoming less active as music-making participants and more passive as non-participating listeners.
What is your favorite class to teach?
It’s hard to pick one. I think my favorite class is the one I’m teaching at any given moment (provided it’s going well!).
What are you excited about this semester?
I’m excited about working with our new students, seeing our returning students and faculty flourish, and finishing an article for a scholarly journal.
What was the last book you read?
I’m currently reading It Can’t Happen Here by the American author Sinclair Lewis, one of my favorite writers. (Also check out his hilarious book, Babbitt.) Lewis wrote this book in 1935, during the Great Depression, while Hitler was ruling Germany and Mussolini was ruling Italy. It is a fictitious account of the rise of a Fascist dictatorship in the U. S. in what was then the immediate future (1936-39, with FDR losing the 1936 presidential election). It is stunning to see the parallels between Lewis’s scenario, which did not come to pass, and elements of our current political, social, and cultural context. Consider wrestling with this book, and think about our heritage as a democracy that envisions a balance between individual liberty and service to the common good. (I worry that we’re forgetting the latter.)
What was your worst subject in school?
Probably chemistry, taken in high school. I was infuriated to be given a set of rules for the behavior of elements, molecules, and so forth, and then to be told that there were myriad exceptions to those rules. I guess I wasn’t yet prepared for real life.
What do you do for fun and relaxation?
I ride my bike to and from the university. There’s really no downside—abundant free parking and good exercise—except when the AQI reaches the “chewable” level. I also like to build sand castles with my kids at the beach, brew my own beer, and bake caramel sticky rolls following the classic Betty Crocker recipe. These forms of creation can produce results that look beautiful and delight family and friends, and the latter two also smell and taste beautiful. These things also make me more appreciative of the labor that has gone into everything I pull off the shelf at the store.
Do you have any advice or thoughts for our students?
Be true to your loves, and work hard to cultivate them. We’re all put together differently but still have the capacity to resonate with each other. Each of us can contribute greatly to our common life. If you follow what you’re really fired up about, whether within or outside of your career, it’s contagious. Other can’t help but be infected, and even if their choices or opinions differ, they will respect you for letting your light burn brightly.
What did you do over summer break?
The most enjoyable thing was to drive with my family through northern California and along the Oregon coast, camping along the way, to Cannon Beach in northwest Oregon. The natural beauty puts one in one’s place and cleanses the spirit. We should remember that we are quite small in a big, big world, but also that we are a part of it and need to walk gently.
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