Aaron Manela holds a B.A. in physics and music from Brandeis University, where he studied French Horn and voice. After graduating in 1996, he began an ongoing secondary career in educational software development. He pursued graduate studies in music composition at the University of Oregon from 2005 through 2009, and received an M.A. in Musicology from the University of Oregon in 20l1. His thesis, “Arthur Saint-Léon’s The Little Humpbacked Horse in Context,” explored the ways in which music and dance illustrate the conceptual basis for who is—and is not—Russian in this 1864 ballet. Aaron is a Ph.D. candidate here at Case Western Reserve University, where he continues to study the intersection of music and identity construction across multiple historical eras. In 2015, Aaron received the Graduate Dean’s Instructional Excellence Award.
Aaron has given papers at national and international conferences, including:
“The Signifyin(g) Muppet: Blues and the Performance of Race for the Heartland on Sesame Street,” Society For American Music, Little Rock AR, March 9, 2013; International Musicological Society Music and Media Study Group: “Music on Small Screens,” Ottawa ON, Canada, July 13, 2013.
“Chosen Cowboy Mazel Tov: Novelty Song and the Effeminate Danger of the Urban Jew,” Society For American Music, Lancaster PA, March 8, 2014; Center for Judaic and Holocaust Studies and Youngstown State University Dana School of Music, Youngstown OH, Oct. 21 2014.
“Tokenism, Codes, and Embodiment on The Backyardigans: The Animated Body as Cultural Subject,” Society For American Music, Seminar: “Childhood and American Music,” Sacramento CA, March 5, 2015.
Aaron’s dissertation, “Fuzzy and Blue(s) People: The Mission and Transmission of Ethnic and Racial Identity in the Music of Children’s Educational Television,” (in progress) explores the connection between music, race and gender on classic shows, including Sesame Street, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and The Electric Company. At stake is music’s role in propagating implicit hierarchies of identity.