Shenandoah Conservatory music performance major (violin) Madeleine Bohnett ’20 will study musicology abroad this summer with the support of a $5,000 Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, administered by the U.S. Department of State.
Bohnett will use the scholarship to attend the three-week-long Musicology Colloquium with Partners for the Arts Abroad LLC in Vienna, Austria, and to study German while there, as well.
“I am grateful to have found this study abroad opportunity in Vienna, Austria, in which I can immerse myself in a culture that is so strongly tied to some of the most prominent figures in my musical career,” Bohnett said. “By engaging in the musical scene of Vienna, I will gain invaluable knowledge about the field of musicology as well as a higher level of proficiency in German, which will greatly help me in my pursuit for graduate school.
“Although my plan is to pursue a path that is not as rooted in German studies (such as U.S. hip hop studies or Senegalese hip hop), I will be able to apply my ability to learn languages in unique ways. Furthermore, German is a challenging language that will enable me to learn differently about the musical history of Austria as I craft my own research project on the functionality of archival research, in terms of reception, and how it relates to the perpetuation of the marginalization of female Austrian composers and the circulation of their works.
“This program, which is a part of the Vienna Summer Music Festival, is a Musicology Colloquium that is designed to prepare students like me to perform archival research at a high level.”
A Meaningful Scholarship
The Gilman Scholarship provides funds for students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad, according to the scholarship program’s website. The award process is competitive, and any funds awarded must be used to defray study/internship abroad costs.
“By supporting students who have financial need, the program represents a commitment to supporting students who have been historically underrepresented in education abroad such as ethnic minority students, students with disabilities, first-generation college students, and many others,” Bohnett said. “As both a non-traditional student and an advocate for incorporating social justice work into the value system of higher education opportunities, it is really important to me that students interested in making change and expanding cultural experiences apply for the Gilman Scholarship.”
Bohnett learned about being potentially eligible for the scholarship early in the spring semester through an email from Shenandoah’s Center for International Programs. “In that same time frame, I discovered the Musicology Colloquium study abroad opportunity on a Facebook post, and I thought that it would be a great chance to make it possible for me to pursue my interest in studying abroad.”
An email notification told Bohnett they had won the scholarship. “I noticed it during the last few minutes of a Zoom meeting for my favorite class, Sex and Gender in Religion, with my academic role model and mentor [Assistant Professor of Religion] Dr. Meredith Minister. Luckily, I was in Davis Hall, only a few classrooms away from her office, and I did not hesitate running over to share the good news! I am indebted to her for her continual support; she challenges me to realize my potential as a curious, caring and flourishing academic.”
Minister is just as impressed by Bohnett. “Maddie is an incredible person and one of the most insightful and inventive students I’ve ever had the pleasure to teach,” Dr. Minister said. “Their passion for learning is unparalleled. They take the most difficult theory books off of my shelves and return them a week later, ready for a conversation. They are a well-deserving recipient of this award and I look forward to hearing about their experiences in Austria.”
A Growing Interest In Musicology
Bohnett’s interest in musicology has also grown through their time at Shenandoah. “My first experience engaging with musicological work was in spring of 2018, when an academic role model and mentor, [Coordinator of Music Literature and Associate Professor of Music History and Literature] Dr. Laurie McManus, introduced me to academic scholarship on Austrian composer Franz Schubert, focusing on sexuality studies and cultural history. These first encounters with musicology, encouraged and supported by Dr. McManus, led me to pursue my interest in attending the Annual Musicological Society conference in San Antonio in the fall of 2018. After this experience, I knew that I would greatly benefit from an international learning experience, and from there the Musicology Colloquium seemed to appear by fate. I am so grateful to Dr. McManus for believing in my ability to engage and interact in advanced music scholarship, and I am looking forward to experiencing similar musical encounters as Schubert would have in his native birthplace of Vienna, Austria.”
A Follow-On Project To Encourage Dialogue
Gilman applicants must also propose a follow-on service project to occur after they study abroad. Bohnett’s project aims to encourage study abroad programs, increase awareness of the Gilman Scholarship, and share how their travel abroad impacted their perspective on the world. “My hope is to construct a Dinner Dialogue in collaboration with the Mosaic Center. One of the topics that I would like to focus on is the intersection of studying abroad and living as a complex human being with multiple marginalized identities. As a trans, non-binary person of color, I know that my experience studying abroad in Vienna, Austria, will be unique in ways that speak to the challenges of navigating diverse cultures. For example, having already traveled abroad to France for an international music program in 2016, I recall difficulties of not being identified as American due to my skin color. Another challenge that I anticipate in the study abroad in Vienna would be maneuvering gendered words in German and seeking gender-neutral language. These obstacles, amongst others, will support my goal of developing new ways to navigate cultural differences and the intersection of race, sex and gender identities.”
Bohnett intends to combine their interests in musicology, women, gender and sexuality studies, and religion in their graduate school studies. “I can’t wait to see what my study abroad experiences, my identity, and my passion will make for my future as a friend, student, leader, and (hopefully) a professor of musicology.