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ASU School of Music welcomes new faculty member Christopher J. Wells

Christopher J. Wells joins the ASU School of Music as assistant professor of musicology, beginning in fall 2015.

Photo by Kai Hayashi.

June 01, 2016

The ASU School of Music is pleased to announce the appointment of Christopher J. Wells as assistant professor of musicology, beginning in fall 2015. Wells comes to ASU from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, where he is currently visiting assistant professor of music.

“We are thrilled to have attracted Christopher Wells to our faculty at this critical time in the history of the school,” said Heather Landes, director of the school. “Dr. Wells’ interdisciplinary research interests in jazz music and dance, as well as his interests in American music, complement our diverse offerings and will contribute greatly to the newly announced PhD program in musicology as well as the undergraduate core curriculum.”

Originally from New York City, Wells received his PhD in musicology in 2014 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His dissertation focused on drummer/bandleader Chick Webb and swing music in Harlem during the Great Depression, and for his research efforts he received the Glen Haydon Award for an Outstanding Dissertation in Musicology and the Edgar A. Toppin Award for Outstanding Research in African American Music.

“I was originally attracted to ASU due to the School of Music’s institutional location as part of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts,” says Wells. “Its comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach seemed like a perfect incubator for the sort of inter-arts dialogue and focus on community participation that I strive to foster through my research on jazz music and dance. I also connect very deeply with ASU’s mission to unite excellence with inclusivity and access; this is what I think higher education ultimately can and should be.”

A social jazz dancer for more than a decade, Wells is currently writing a book about the history of jazz music’s ever-shifting relationship with popular dance. He has also written a chapter for the forthcoming “Oxford Handbook of Dance and Ethnicity.”

In his new position in the School of Music, Wells will contribute a unique voice to the musicology program. He will conduct creative research, teach musicology courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels, including those in the core curriculum, collaborate with faculty colleagues in recruiting students and in the development of curricular initiatives, and mentor graduate students.

“I’m looking forward to being part of a top-notch musicology faculty with colleagues whose work I’ve admired for years,” says Wells. “I’m also looking forward to exploring the opportunities ASU offers for innovative, collaborative work in areas such as research design and online pedagogy.”

Public Contact: 
Heather Beaman
School of Music Communications Liaison

Media Contact:
Heather Beaman
School of Music Communications Liaison