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Vote for York professor in TVO’s Best Lecturer contest
published October 19, 2005

Rob Bowman

On Nov. 5, you can vote for Rob Bowman, professor of ethnomusicology in the Music Department, Faculty of Fine Arts, the second of two York professors to give televised lectures for TVO’s Big Idea Best Lecturer competition. The “idol”-style series runs until Nov. 5, when Bowman’s lecture will be broadcast and voted on by viewers.

Bowman, one of the longest-serving instructors at York, began teaching his courses on rock & roll and popular music 27 years ago at age 22, after doing his undergraduate work here. He said his success is partly due to his efforts at “treating a 300-seat lecture hall as if it was a 20-seat classroom” and the energy he transmits when he lectures.

Bowman is coordinator of the Music Department’s graduate program in ethnomusicology and is frequently in demand as a writer, commentator and broadcaster. He recently appeared in a feature film “mockumentary” about the music industry in which he plays a character very much like himself. He also wrote the 112-page book that accompanies The Band: A Musical History, the recent release of recordings compiled by band member Robbie Robertson, who received an honorary doctorate from York in June. “It was written by a Canadian [Bowman] and he did a great job,” Robertson said. “It is the most informed and accurate thing ever written on The Band.”

TVO taped Bowman delivering a lecture titled “Where Meaning is Located in Music” on Sept. 26. The lecture, scheduled for broadcast at 1pm on both Nov. 5 & 6, includes a comparison of several different versions of the song Try a Little Tenderness and leads into a discussion of the need for changes to current copyright laws. Voting is open on Nov. 5 at or by phone at 1-866-281-3536.

Paul Delaney

Paul Delaney, professor of physics & astronomy in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, was taped giving his lectures at York on Sept. 21. The lecture, which features ideas in science fiction writing that have pointed the way to current reality, was broadcast on Oct. 22 and Oct. 23.

The lecture by another finalist in the competition, York alumnus Michael Higgins (MA ’71, PhD ’79), a professor of English and religious studies at Waterloo University, was broadcast Oct. 15.

The Best Lecturer Competition began with a student survey and 359 nominations from universities throughout Ontario, which netted 63 final nominees. A panel of judges, including columnist Robert Fulford, playwright Andrew Moodie, and Literary Review of Canada editor Bronwyn Drainie, shortlisted the nominees to 30 – including four from York – before selecting 10 finalists. Judges looked for lecturers who could explain their thesis clearly, were passionate about their topic and conveyed their views with confidence and flair.

The winner will be announced on Nov. 12 and TD Meloche Monnex, the sponsor of the competition, will award the winning university a $10,000 scholarship.

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