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Author Topic: Bill Ellis' Dissertation on Rev. Gary Davis  (Read 1731 times)

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Offline Stuart

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Bill Ellis' Dissertation on Rev. Gary Davis
« on: June 14, 2012, 10:03:15 AM »
Gene posted this to the PWBG. It may be of interest to some:

I belong to the band: The music of Reverend Gary Davis
by Ellis, William Lee Ph.D., The University of Memphis, 2010, 794 pages; AAT 3448247

You can find it at UMI (type in 3448247 for the pub number):

http://disexpress.umi.com/dxweb

I didn't  see anything in OCLC.

Here's a link to a preview:

http://udini.proquest.com/view/i-belong-to-the-band-the-music-of-goid:859453543/

« Last Edit: June 14, 2012, 12:51:10 PM by Stuart »

Offline CF

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Re: Bill Ellis' Diss on Rev. Gary Davis
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2012, 10:37:30 AM »
Ahhh, 'dissertation' . . . I thought he slagged the great man  :)

This looks like a must-have.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2012, 10:38:42 AM by cheapfeet »
Stand By If You Wanna Hear It Again . . .

Offline Stuart

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Re: Bill Ellis' Dissertation on Rev. Gary Davis
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2012, 12:52:58 PM »
Sorry for the ambiguity. I made the necessary correction.

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Bill Ellis' Dissertation on Rev. Gary Davis
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2012, 08:09:34 PM »
I guess he figured if he wrote it in as dense academese as possible his review committee would throw up their hands at some point and throw him his PHD? Of course I'll have to read it though, but just for the hell of it here is an example of actual writing.


from James Joyce's "The Dead" Notice how like music it is, extraordinarily beautiful music.


Just then his aunts and his wife came out of the ladies' dressing-room. His aunts were two small, plainly dressed old women. Aunt Julia was an inch or so the taller. Her hair, drawn low over the tops of her ears, was grey; and grey also, with darker shadows, was her large flaccid face. Though she was stout in build and stood erect, her slow eyes and parted lips gave her the appearance of a woman who did not know where she was or where she was going. Aunt Kate was more vivacious. Her face, healthier than her sister's, was all puckers and creases, like a shrivelled red apple, and her hair, braided in the same old-fashioned way, had not lost its ripe nut colour.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Bill Ellis' Dissertation on Rev. Gary Davis
« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2012, 09:30:48 PM »
I used to have to read feces, ;)  I mean theses. These were senior theses of art students defending things like painting with menstrual blood and crawling naked through heaps of dirty laundry . The writing style or lack thereof had the same grandiosity, in combination with a tin ear, that the form seems universally to demand. There ought to be a law against it really. Its a form of torture. 
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Stuart

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Re: Bill Ellis' Dissertation on Rev. Gary Davis
« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2012, 11:08:17 PM »
You might send him an e-mail at St. Mike's and ask if he plans to re-work his dissertation for publication.

He also has a website:

http://williamleeellis.com/hmix.html

Offline bnemerov

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Re: Bill Ellis' Dissertation on Rev. Gary Davis
« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2012, 09:00:20 AM »
Mr. O'M....
I feel your pain, brother.
There's a special circle of Hell occupied by lost souls forced to read only academese for all eternity.
Though to be fair to Ellis, he's capable of much better writing than this Diss. (and yes, I read it...mostly). He put in a good number of years writing for the Memphis newspapers---some good music stuff here and there.
Stilted writing as a mark of intellectual consequence? wazzup wi' dat? 

Offline Stuart

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Re: Bill Ellis' Dissertation on Rev. Gary Davis
« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2012, 09:57:08 AM »
Once again, with feeling:

http://www.soc.umn.edu/~samaha/cases/limerick_dancing_with_professors.html

Hopefully Bill can rewrite a version for the rest of us and have it still get respect from the academics he's going to have to please for tenure, promotions, etc.

Offline Cleoma

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Re: Bill Ellis' Dissertation on Rev. Gary Davis
« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2012, 10:41:40 AM »
I know what you mean about academic writing (Mike Seeger once said:  Theses is species of feces) but it really is unfair to compare anyone to James Joyce!!

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Bill Ellis' Dissertation on Rev. Gary Davis
« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2012, 10:57:09 AM »
Once again, with feeling:

http://www.soc.umn.edu/~samaha/cases/limerick_dancing_with_professors.html


I forget what I may have said the last time you referred us to this essay, Stuart, but it should be required reading for anyone at any university anywhere in the world.

Offline dj

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Re: Bill Ellis' Dissertation on Rev. Gary Davis
« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2012, 11:27:47 AM »
Quote
Notice how like music it is, extraordinarily beautiful music.

So if I understand you correctly, O'Muck, you'd prefer something like: "a way a lone a last a loved a long the secondstringrun, past First and Secondfret, from swerve of string to bend of same, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Eb7 played in C position at the third fret"?     :P   (Just kidding.  I'm a great admirer of Joyce, though Finnigan's Wake is a bit difficult.)

It's a pity that there isn't more emphasis put on writing style in academia, and especially in advanced degree programs.  Until there is, you have to pity the poor doctoral candidate.  He's not taken seriously in academia if he writes well, and he's not taken seriously outside of academia if he doesn't write well.

Offline eagle rockin daddy

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Re: Bill Ellis' Dissertation on Rev. Gary Davis
« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2012, 12:17:31 PM »
Just met Bill last week.  He's a real nice guy and a helluva player.  As far as I'm concerned anyone who writes about the Rev is fine with me.  I haven't read the thesis completely, but I found the excerpt to be very readable.  But then I don't like Joyce so go figger.

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Bill Ellis' Dissertation on Rev. Gary Davis
« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2012, 05:36:30 PM »


"So if I understand you correctly, O'Muck, you'd prefer something like: "a way a lone a last a loved a long the secondstringrun, past First and Secondfret, from swerve of string to bend of same, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Eb7 played in C position at the third fret"?     :P   (Just kidding.  I'm a great admirer of Joyce, though Finnigan's Wake is a bit difficult.)

It's a pity that there isn't more emphasis put on writing style in academia, and especially in advanced degree programs.  Until there is, you have to pity the poor doctoral candidate.  He's not taken seriously in academia if he writes well, and he's not taken seriously outside of academia if he doesn't write well.
[/quote]

Yeah that's the ticket.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Bill Ellis' Dissertation on Rev. Gary Davis
« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2012, 07:48:57 PM »
And Suzy if we don't compare ourselves to the best and endeavor to equal them, doomed proposition though it may be (yourself with Heifetz for example, me with Rev. Davis) then in the immortal words of Guru Zoidberg "We play bad and we should feel bad!" ;)
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Rivers

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Re: Bill Ellis' Dissertation on Rev. Gary Davis
« Reply #14 on: June 15, 2012, 08:01:41 PM »
Before one can write with style one'd better be able to write without it.

Style is a choice. Nothing wrong with that if you do it well, most people won't even notice, it's the special sauce. Better be able to spell foist! all lower case sux, as do groovy abbrevs. Correct grammars important. The passive voice should be avoided by everbody.

To be completely candid I'm not a big Joyce fan. At this point I tend to regard him as the most overrated sacred cow, right up there with with Elvis Presley. I have tried, but he's just not convincing enough as a competent writer to motivate me to suspend disbelief, plod on through the smokescreen, and finish his consistently (IMHO) turgid and generally atrocious books.

Your mileage may vary, and probably does. Not sure what this has to do with Bill Ellis, however.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2012, 08:03:57 PM by Rivers »

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Bill Ellis' Dissertation on Rev. Gary Davis
« Reply #15 on: June 15, 2012, 08:19:36 PM »
Strictly out of curiosity, who is your idea of a good writer if Joyce is an overrated sacred cow?
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Rivers

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Re: Bill Ellis' Dissertation on Rev. Gary Davis
« Reply #16 on: June 16, 2012, 09:30:42 AM »
I don't believe I care to go there, since it's not on topic, and because you seem to be in a mood to lecture, and I do not care to be lectured.

Offline Gumbo

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Re: Bill Ellis' Dissertation on Rev. Gary Davis
« Reply #17 on: June 16, 2012, 12:54:26 PM »
Happy Bloomsday!    ;D

Offline Rivers

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Re: Bill Ellis' Dissertation on Rev. Gary Davis
« Reply #18 on: June 16, 2012, 04:12:27 PM »
I have given this some thought and realized my discomfort is with the thread in general, it's nothing to do with discussions of literary giants.

While the points made are valid, they take on a more personal aspect for me since I happen to have met Bill Ellis, albeit briefly. He's a good player and performer, and seemed quite pleasant and unaffected, although he does hold some strong opinions on the music, as do we all. I'm not sure how he himself would view what he wrote back then, and I'm damn sure I'd be unimpressed to be critiqued on my 'get out of jail' dissertations many years later.

As I say it was a brief meeting, after he had played a set at the Auckland Folk Fest a few years ago.

As for great writers, I recommend the 'Biggles' series by Capt. W.E. Johns, particularly 'Biggles Flies Again'. Now there's a writer!

Offline Stuart

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Re: Bill Ellis' Dissertation on Rev. Gary Davis
« Reply #19 on: June 16, 2012, 10:09:03 PM »
He wrote it for his committee (the one that granted his degree) to demonstrate that he can think and work at the Ph.D. level--and indirectly for the committee that hired him at St. Mike's. He was successful on both counts. The next task is to rewrite it and have it published as a book, one that will earn him tenure. Hopefully, he'll be successful at that as well.

There's an old saying, "He who tries to please everybody labors in vain," but so far he's pleased the people that count. Maybe in the future he'll have a chance to demonstrate his stylistic and literary chops in a way that meets with everyone's approval.

Tags: Rev. Gary Davis 
 


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