Nathan Smith is a fourth year PhD candidate in the Music Department, enjoying his first year as a McDougal Teaching Fellow in the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning. His research interests lie at the various intersections of popular music, philosophy, and mathematics. His dissertation on the aesthetic category “corn(y)”—tentatively entitled “Opening the Can of Corn”—explores how ideas of the rural circulated within urban jazz discourses in the 1930s and 40s. In tilling this untended field, this research investigates how the shucking of sentiment, novelty, and humor from jazz was inexorably interwoven with a consolidation of urban whiteness, industrial socialist dreams, and the combined conjugation of jazz with the metropole, and the metropole with the nation.
Nathan’s teaching experience ranges in scale from giving private music lessons to leading a large high school marching band through movement fundamentals. Between these scalar extremes, he has contributed to four undergraduate classes at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University (two as an instructor, two as a teaching assistant). He is currently employed as a teaching fellow in his third class at Yale. Concerning pedagogy, Nathan explores the dynamics of (inter)disciplinarity, humor, and mediation—all in service of fostering equity across a range of pedagogical contexts.
In his free time, Nathan enjoys reading sci-fi, biking, and playing with his dog, Dowland.