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Sonia Seeman

Associate FacultyPh.D., UCLA

Associate Professor in the School of Music, College of Fine Arts
Sonia Seeman



music of modern Turkey, the Ottoman Empire, and Southeastern Europe, specializing in Rom (“Gypsy”) communities


Dr. Seeman’s interests focus on the music of modern Turkey, the Ottoman Empire, and Southeastern Europe, specializing in Rom (“Gypsy”) communities. She has done field research in Macedonia and Southeastern Europe (1985-87; 1989) and in Turkey (1995-1999; 2003) on Rom, Turkish, and transnational musical practices. She received her Phd from UCLA in 2002. Her dissertation,“‘You’re Roman!’ Music and Identity in Turkish Roman Communities,” investigates the relationship between cultural practices and Rom social identity by exploring the tension between music as lived experience and as socially and politically constructed from the Byzantine and Ottoman periods through the present. She taught at UCSB for 4 years on a post-doctoral faculty fellowship and as a lecturer. Courses taught at UCSB and UCLA include: the music of Turkey, Ottoman communities, Roma communities, and Southeastern Europe, as well as seminars on ethnomusicological theory, world popular music, and the anthropology of music. Her theoretical interests include: transnationalism and cosmopolitanism; minority communities; recording industry; post-structuralism; phenomenological hermeneutics. Seeman has articles in Middle East Studies Association Bulletin, Ethnomusicology Forum, and Music and Anthropology. She has also written several sets of liner notes, and co-produced an ethnographic recording with clarinetist Selim Sesler, “Roads to Kesan”, released by Kalan Muzik. Her recent research interests explore emergent Turkish cultural expressions and ongoing configuration of ethnic and gendered identities in the wake of the European Union accession processes.


WGS 393 • Smnr: Music, Gender, Sexuality

48090 • Fall 2013
Meets F 200pm-500pm MRH M3.113
(also listed as MES 386)

Taking the premise that musical practices shape gender ideologies as well as are shaped by such perspectives, this course investigates musical practices from perspectives drawn from a variety of gender paradigms. The course will investigate key writings from gender, feminist, queer, masculinity and other related theories from within the various “waves” and including theories of embodiment, performativity, post-structuralism, post-colonialism, among others. There will also be a significant component on issues from the Middle East. We will also investigate particular case studies to illuminate and challenge such theories, and to suggest new theoretical possibilities.

Seminar requirements include: weekly readings; on-line and in-class discussions; summary format and/or response papers; writing and other media explorations for different narrative and presentational formats; in-class presentations. Major writing assignments will include either 2 10-page conference-style papers or short midterm proposal and 20 page final research paper. Students will also be able to work on individual research projects in relation to course topics and readings.

Although we will trace musical practices as our main focus, this course welcomes students from all disciplines, and knowledge of music, notation or performance is not required in order to engage with the issues in this seminar.

WGS 340 • Music And Gender

47095 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm MRH M3.113
(also listed as MEL 321, MES 342)

What does music have to do with gender?

Scholars who study gender have shown that gender constitutes a fundamental factor in social and cultural life. In addition, they claim that cultural practices such as musical sound, visual images and other forms not only reflect but also constitute gendered identities. While it is possible to posit that gender distinctions have been a universal geographic and temporal constant in human societies, it has only been since the 1980s that scholarsbegan to theorize gender and sexuality in music. That is, if gender and sexuality is culturally constructed, what is the role of musical practices in constituting gender differences? Further, how do gender identities intersect with other categories such as race, ethnicity, and class? This course will survey a range of readings, approaches, and writing styles in considering the relationship between musical practice and gender identification.           

We will use musical and visual portrayals of gender from a variety of cultural areas---ranging from American pop genres to North African, Arabic, Turkish genres and beyond. This course will also be cross-listed with Middle Eastern Studies, and we will use case studies (at least 30%) from Middle Eastern communities as well as explore Western European/US musical expressions of gender through orientalism and colonialism. Non-music majors are welcome; while we will analyze the use of musical signs, specific knowledge of music or notation is not required. The class will use a reader, blackboard postings,listening and viewing examples; there will be no single text book.

WGS 393 • Smnr: Music, Gender, Sexuality

47191 • Fall 2011
Meets T 330pm-630pm MRH 3.134
(also listed as MES 386)

This course will survey a range of readings, approaches, and writing styles in considering the relationship between musical practice and gender identification. Through examination of case studies, texts, musical sounds, genres, and performance contexts, we will examine a range of issues and theoretical perspectives that help to understand the role of musical practices in constituting, negotiating, and challenging gender categories and identities. Requirements include weekly reading, written summaries, participation in discussions, and a final research project. Reading notation and music-specific knowledge is not required for this course. Students from all areas of music, gender studies and Middle Eastern studies are particularly welcome. 



To be provided by instructor. 



To be provided by instructor. 

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