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Music professor to publish on gender, sexuality in Irish traditional music

May 15, 2014

Gender and sexuality in Irish traditional music will be the topic of a forthcoming book by Tes Slominski, a postdoctoral faculty fellow in the music department. Slated to be released in 2017, the book will be targeted to an academic audience of those specializing in gender and sexuality studies, music studies, and Irish studies.

Slominski’s book, which will be published by Wesleyan University Press, will be comprised of five in-depth chapters. The first two will discuss early 20th century female Irish musicians, the third will explore the orientation of musicians toward their craft (for example, whether or not they view themselves as male/female first or as musicians first), the fourth is a profile of fiddler Julia Clifford (1914-1997), and the final chapter will be on queer musicians.

Slominski, who will be promoted to assistant professor of ethnomusicology in the fall, didn’t originally intend to focus on the early 20th-century time period. After researching archived material, however, she learned that there are many interesting Irish female musicians whom classical and traditional music have forgotten. Plus, she said there are no other books that have been written on the topic.

Later this month, she will travel to Ireland for a couple weeks to conduct interviews with musicians and become more familiar with the queer community, and she plans to spend all of next summer in the Emerald Isle continuing her research. Slominski is already well-acquainted with Ireland as she attended the University of Limerick for her master’s degree in ethnomusicology.

Meanwhile, she will also be traveling to upstate New York in July to teach fiddle at the Catskills Irish Arts Week.

“The Irish fiddle ate my brain,” Slominski jokes of her passion. “When I first heard this music, I was so taken with it. I was 17. I heard a track (Humours of Lissadell) on the radio and thought I have to do that. Everything else I’ve done since then has been in the pursuit of that.”