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Bartlett Hall, Room 77
(413) 545-0642


Donald James

Donald James
, Lecturer in Ethnomusicology, received his BA in Music from Boston College and is a Ph.D candidate in Ethnomusicology at the University of Chicago currently completing his dissertation titled "Playing Outside: Cultural Politics and Jazz Style on the Scene in Paris."

James is primarily a scholar of jazz and popular music, and his current research interests focus on music scenes and sociabilities, and cultural politics.  James spent three years doing field research in Paris among a number of jazz musicians, and was in part funded as a fellow at L’Institut dEtudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po), investigating cultural policy with respect to jazz in France.  Since his field research, James has taught as an adjunct lecturer at Boston College, Babson College, and Dean College.

James has presented papers on jazz and cultural policy, jazz historiography, jam band tapers, and concepts of liveness in podcasting at conferences in the US and Europe.  Among his public lectures, James has been invited to speak as part of the Copenhagen Philosophy Forum’s lecture series on Jazz and Philosophy, the University of California Santa Barbara’s Ethnomusicology Workshop, and as the central speaker for an event at Boston College celebrating the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Band’s The Last Waltz.  James wrote the entry for jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt in the Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians at, and acted as the Maryland Historical Society’s discographer for pianist and composer Eubie Blake. James is also an advocate for and active user of learning technologies, having been an Assistant in Learning Technologies at the University of Chicago, a participant in Project Bamboo, and learning technologies liaison for the Music Department at Boston College.  Outside of his scholarly work, James remains active performing rock and country music, and is a jazz guitarist.

Appointed 2014

Dance Department