Nancy Guy

Integrative Studies

  Phone: 858/534-8875
Off: CPMC 242

Nancy Guy is an ethnomusicologist whose broad interests include the musics of Taiwan and China, varieties of opera (including European and Chinese forms), music and state politics, and the ecocritical study of music.

Guy's first book Peking Opera and Politics in Taiwan (University of Illinois Press, 2005) won the ASCAP Béla Bartók Award for Excellence in Ethnomusicology and was also named an "Outstanding Academic Title for 2006" by Choice, the review magazine of the Association for College and Research Libraries. Peking Opera and Politics in Taiwan tells the story of a performance tradition caught in a sea of ideological ebbs and flows. It demonstrates the impact of the political environment on an art form's development, ranging from determining small musical details (such as how a melody can or cannot be sung) to whether or not a tradition ultimately thrives or withers away.

Guy turned her scholarly interest to Western opera following the death of American opera singer Beverly Sills in 2007. In 2015, she published her second book The Magic of Beverly Sills (University of Illinois Press), in which she takes Sills' singing career as a case study for addressing questions about art and fandom, elite and mass culture, singing artistry and performance. Through her investigation, Guy corrects the common assumption that opera belongs to urban elites only and demonstrates how Sills' public persona and media presence became a site for the contestation of public culture as Sills challenged distinctions between elite and mass culture. Merging archival and ethnographic research and her own love of Sills' music, Guy focuses on the singing actress's artistry and the ineffable aspects of performance that earned Sills a passionate fandom. Inspired by Dolan's concept of the "utopian performative," Csikszentmihalyi's "flow" and Goodall's "presence," among others, Guy develops a theory of "magic in performance" as she explores performative moments that listeners and performers alike describe as "magic."

Guy has presented aspects of her Sills work at the annual meetings of the Society for Ethnomusicology (Mexico City, 2009; Austin 2015), the Society for American Music (Cincinnati, 2010), and the American Musicological Society (San Francisco, 2011; Milwaukee 2014). Her Sills research has been the subject of her invited research talks at University of California Los Angeles (2010), University of Maryland, College Park (2010), National Taiwan University (2011), University of Southern California (2012), and the CUNY Graduate Center (2016), among others. In 2011, Guy delivered the keynote speech at the annual meeting of the Taiwan Musicology Forum in Hsinchu, Taiwan, with a talk titled "Magic in Performance: Beverly Sills as a Case Study."

Guy has an ongoing interest in the ecocritical study of music. With the support of a Fulbright Scholar Grant, she spent the 2002-03 academic year conducting research in Taiwan, where she developed a project focusing on music, place, and the physical environment. She published some of the results of this research in an article titled "Flowing down Taiwan's Tamsui River: Towards an Ecomusicology of the Environmental Imagination" in the spring/summer 2009 issue of Ethnomusicology, the flagship journal of the Society for Ethnomusicology. The Association for Chinese Music Research awarded this article the 2010 Rulan Chao Pian Publication Prize for the best English-language article on Chinese music. Currently, she is investigating the music of Taiwan's garbage trucks and how these familiar tunes have found their way into multiple forms of the island's popular culture. Guy has presented the preliminary finds of this work around the world, including at Harvard University (2015), National Taiwan University (2015), and the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies (2016).

Guy's other scholarly work appears in TDR: The Drama Review, Ethnomusicology, Perfect Beat, Asian Theatre Journal, ACMR Reports, Comparative Drama (2001/2002), and Zhongguo Yishu Yanjiuyuan Yanjiushengbu (Graduate School Academic Journal of the Academy of Arts of China, Beijing, 1993). Her essay "Trafficking in Taiwan Aboriginal Voices" appears in Handle with Care: Ownership and Control of Ethnographic Materials (edited by Sjoerd R. Jaarsma, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2002), with an updated and revised version, "Trafficking in Taiwan Aboriginal Voices Revisited," published in Reading Chinese Music and Beyond (edited by Joys H. Y. Cheung and King Chung Wong, Chinese Civilisation Centre, City University of Hong Kong, 2010). Guy has also contributed articles to key reference volumes including the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (revised edition), the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music (East Asia volume), and the Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance. In addition to two Fulbright grants (1991-92, 2002-03), her field research in Taiwan has been supported by grants from the U.S. Department of Education, the Republic of China Ministry of Education, and the UC San Diego Academic Senate's Committee on Research. Other awards include fellowships from the American Musicological Society (AMS 50 Dissertation Fellowship), Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Taiwan-based Koo's Foundation, and the Hsio-De Foundation.

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