Summer Refresh


And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.

– F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Summer is here: summer, in academia-land (a dusty place, filled with data and manuscripts, lots of coffee, and late nights) is a time for contemplation, conferences and hard writing. Outside of term-time is when the majority of academics get the most writing done. 1000 words before brunch, anyone?

July passed in a whirl of travel (by boat, train and plane) for a conference in Maynooth, Ireland and another in Vienna. I presented papers at both conferences: exciting, tiring days sharing knowledge, ideas and networks. Now I’m back and this poor blog feels a little neglected of late: it’s been a busy time, not just with research, as my sister got married in Scotland last week!

The first conference on Music in Third Republic France, Remembering Paul Dukas at 150, was a stimulating three days of intriguing and refreshing presentations, rich in intertextual explorations into rare musical sources, poetry, philosophical ideas and film. I was honoured to open the conference with my paper on Bergsonian ideas of time in the music of fin de siècle Paris and grateful for the engaging feedback: the conference had a friendly, community atmosphere. This was an expanding group of scholars pushing the boundaries of French music research, coming together to discuss their new ideas and sip Guinness.

The second conference I attended, 2nd International Conference of Dalcroze Studies: The Movement Connection, was an eclectic mix of presentations, workshops and performances. Alongside academics working in dance, music and other arts, there were Dalcroze experts from across the world, teachers, students of eurhythmics, dancers, altogether numbering 200 people who descended on Vienna’s University of Music and Performing Arts for three days. I presented a paper on the Dalcrozian influences in Debussy and Nijinsky’s ballet Jeux of 1913, amidst a session which included an intriguing analysis of music and movement connections in rap artist Tyler The Creator’s music video Yonkers by Maeve Sterbenz (a PhD student in Music Theory at Columbia University); as well as a rich investigation into the possibilities of Dalcroze-inspired analysis of choreography in Pina Bausch’s production of The Rite of Spring by Esther Pürgstaller (University of Bosen). I also had the opportunity to explore Vienna’s cultural heritage: the coffee culture, Imperial Palaces and beautiful gardens of the Belvedere.

Summer is also a chance to recuperate and revitalise after another academic year. It can be a strange time, colleges, most University buildings and popular student haunts are often eerily quiet, whilst the high streets are buzzing with tourists – particularly true here in Oxford with many summer schools taking place across the city. Now July has been and gone, there’s just under two months until the start of the new term and another busy academic year. It’s a time to write, rethink, plan ahead, and so this August I’m going to try and tackle some research for a future chapter as well as trying to write up a chapter based on one of my conference papers. But I’m hoping to make the most of the long hazy days, perhaps see one of the many outdoor theatre productions taking place here and explore Oxford outside of student time. It’s important to get a good balance of productivity and revitalising, to feel refreshed and yet prepared when the rush of a new year hits us in October.

What are your summer plans? How do you recuperate in the summer months?

Below are a few snapshots from my travels in July!

Maynooth and Dublin

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St Andrews, Scotland: 

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