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‘Getting to know you’ Teri Dobbs

Interview by Libby Clark

Tell us about your role in PtJA
I’m the international co-investigator from the United States, located at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. My primary research agenda at the present time focuses on my investigating the meaning of music-making experiences in the Holocaust, whether it consists of performing, composing, listening, etc., particularly for children, but for adults as well. My work in this area is primarily theoretical and philosophical, keeping an eye on how my archival research and interviews with survivors—and the work of Team PtJA—might assist me in constructing a critical pedagogy of music remembrance. This will have an impact on the ways in which educators teach the Holocaust, emphasizing the ethical human subjectivity of the victims—which was denied them—and that of their students. I also am deeply interested in disability theory and the socio-cultural construction of human difference. Both agendas converge through my studies in the Holocaust.

What were you doing before working on PtJA?
What I continue to do now at the University of Wisconsin-Madison: I am an Associate Professor of Music Education and Chair of Music Education in the Mead Witter School of Music. I research and teach courses to undergraduates, and graduate students pursuing Masters and Doctoral studies. I hold an appointment in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the School of Education, and am a faculty affiliate in the Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies, the Disabilities Studies Initiative, and the Arts Institute.

What’s the best thing about working on a project like PtJA?
It is so difficult to choose just one! It is a remarkable and rare privilege to be associated with this team, an utterly dedicated and passionate group of professionals who are engaged in this project. I have learned so much from each individual that my research and teaching have been enriched and, indeed, made more complex. This is my first experience with an international grant project of this scope, so just learning to navigate the budgetary and financial aspects of a budget that spans continents has been eye-opening. PtJA has allowed me to travel to places for the first time, present my scholarship to a worldwide audience but most importantly to meet new friends and colleagues. I remain, in the truest sense of the word, agog! That, and I have learned some amazing Yorkshire slang.

What do you get the most satisfaction from professionally?
I am a life-long learner and am very curious about learning new things, especially those that PtJA studies. So researching and sharing it through teaching suit me perfectly. Most of all, though, my deepest satisfaction comes from working with colleagues like the PtJA team who fearlessly dive into tough questions, new methods, new geographical locations, and become open to my own perspectives of research. We are really quite a social bunch who enjoy working AND playing together.

What’s the biggest challenge for you on this project?
Only one?? I would say that my biggest challenge is managing my time to meet both my PtJA obligations as well as my University obligations, which continue no matter what. That and the 6-hour time difference to make team Skype meetings: Team PtJA has seen me at my absolute worst between 6:00 and 7:00am Central Standard Time!

Outside of work, what are your interests and hobbies?
I enjoy gardening when Wisconsin is not covered in snow, raising mostly flowers, herbs, and peppers—the hotter the better. I then dry them and make vinegars and oils; this coming summer my goal is to create vinegar-based “shrubs”, tinctures, and bitters. I must have been an herbalist in an earlier life. As much as I would like to emulate my teammates Libby and Lisa who are incredible athletes, I enjoy the slow rhythms of yoga, qigong, and barre exercise. My husband, Jesse Markow, and I love to travel as well as cook—the bigger, more complex the project, the better! We are the adoring humans whose hearts have been thoroughly stolen by Asti the Wunder Dawg, half Italian Greyhound and half Devil Dawg (ask Simon Glass of the Krewe du Filme!), who keeps us on our toes.

Outside of work, what are the top things on your ‘bucket list’?
A solid week in a Northwoods cabin on a lake with NO wifi, TV, radio, etc, where I do nothing but soak up the quiet, learn how to knit, walk Asti, and read, read, read. That’s to fill up my bucket. Jesse and I would dearly love to return to South Africa—our welcome in Cape Town was so warm and genuine that we are actually looking at our calendars for a return trip. We also wish to spend more time with our far-flung families, whom we owe visits—get the guest room ready, folks! That and learn to play Irish flute!

If you were stranded on a desert island what three things would you want with you?
A whole crate of books, a non-stop supply of high-test chocolate, and my Markow family (that way, I get both Jesse AND Asti!).

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