The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Musicology professor Susan C. Cook is the new director of the UW-Madison School of Music. | May 31, 2013

By Jacob Stockinger

The semester is over and commencement at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has already been held. But in case you haven’t already heard, Musicology professor Susan C. Cook (below, in a photo by Michael Forster Rothbart) is the new director of the UW-Madison School of Music.

Last I heard, some university committee or administrator had to give the final approval, but that that was a formality and no trouble or problem was expected.

Susan C. Cook UW SOM BW CR Michael Forster Rothbart

As you can see from the biography taken from the UW-Madison School of Music website, Cook is very accomplished and original in her eclectic interests and scholarship, and she has some serious high-level administrative experience.

“Susan C. Cook is professor of music and also serves as the academic associate dean for the Arts and Humanities in the Graduate School.

“Her teaching and research focus on contemporary and American music of all kinds and demonstrate her abiding interest in feminist methodologies and cultural criticism.

“Current works-in-progress include an exploration of gender, commemoration and the post-Great War work of Maurice Ravel, American opera singer Alma Gluck, musical imagery in the novels of Carson McCullers, and female blackface minstrelsy.

“She is the author of “Opera for a New Republic,” co-editor of “Cecilia Reclaimed” as well as essays in “The Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century Music,” the  “Garland Encyclopedia of World Music” and “Teaching Music History.”

“Her essay “Watching Our Step: Embodying Research, Telling Stories,” on the gendered and racialized meanings of ragtime social dance won the Lippincott Prize from the Society for Dance History Scholars. She has also held the Walt Whitman Chair in American Culture Studies as part of the Fulbright Distinguished Teaching Program in the Netherlands.”

Susan Cook takes over July 1 from John Stevens (below), the Yale University-trained composer, and tuba and euphonium professor, who is stepping down early to return to return to teaching for one final year before retiring.

John Stevens

The Ear wishes good luck to Susan Cook, who heads up an outstanding program, with gifted faculty and talented students, but also faces some daunting financial and staffing challenges in the coming years if the UW School of Music is to maintain its excellent reputation.


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