Individual Thought Patterns: Women in NY’s Extreme Metal Music Scene (DONE)


It’s DONE!

Just wanted to report that my long road to finishing up my second Masters in Anthropology is done. I actually finished up last Spring but due to paperwork and general CUNY slowness, it only posted to our online repository yesterday.

Here it is in all it’s glory – Individual Thought Patterns: Women in NY’s Extreme Metal Music Scene

And in case you’re unfamiliar with my work or have only started reading this blog, my back story is that I started this blog when I went back to school to get my second masters. My hopes was that this blog would serve as a place where I could post my papers and thoughts about my program. Here are all the posts related to my research.

Somewhat early into my program, I became interested in ethnomusicology due to my main reader’s influence – Dr. Jonathan Shannon. He taught my first ethnology class and spoke about his own work in the Middle East on musical performance. This led me to look into musical subcultures. Pair that with my 2nd reader’s influence – Dr. Aminata Maraesa – and her work  with women and health in Belize and I was hooked. Hence the birth of my thesis subject on women and extreme metal music.

At the time that I started writing, I was working at Columbia University with hopes to one day get a tenure position elsewhere (side note: Columbia doesn’t have tenure positions for their librarians!)  Most librarian positions at colleges require you to have a second masters to be on the faculty tenure line. Columbia and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (my previous employers) didn’t have a faculty structure for their librarians.

After 4 years at Columbia, I luckily landed the job that I have now at Lehman college – which is a tenured position.

So what can I report? And would I do it all over again? To this, I have a plethora of insights to impart, in no particular order.

First among them:


That’s mainly because throughout, you will constantly doubt your self worth and ability to keep going. On top of that, if you’re like me and approaching your mid-thirties and a woman, you question how graduate work fits in with your career and family planning choices. As some of you may know, I had my daughter in the midst of grad school and was lucky enough to bounce right back into the thick of things, but to say it was easy would be the biggest understatement of the century. Not to mention – impostor syndrome (that’s a whole other post!)


You learn pretty quickly about the reliability of people in your program and school. For me, that was learning that Hunter’s graduate Anthropology program was very much a sink or swim environment with little funding. It fell victim to the general apathy and bureaucracy  of the CUNY system. While that was an enlightening and challenging experience for me, I didn’t fault my instructors and professors, most of whom always seemed to be both encouraging and passionate about their own work. The issues lay with the lack of communication, the bureaucratic processes and multiple systems for self registering. In addition, for a grad program that caters exclusively to night students and older adults, administrative offices were never open during the night (i.e. Bursar, Degree Audit, Department Office, etc.)!

It wasn’t until the end of my program that I finally met other students as lost as I was with regard to the systems we needed to be checking (I kid you not: CUNY has several online systems – (Blackboard, CUNYFirst, the CUNY Portal, MyHunter, DegreeWorks, and MyHunter365 to name a few) or the timelines we needed to be adhering to. And just like that, I had a network of students, who, like me, could exchange and share information that wasn’t being shared widely throughout our program.


I’m not just saying this because I am librarian. I’m saying this because college librarians are often the most informed folks out there. Think about it – their purpose in a college is to help you, the student, get the information you need. So look for them, take a basic research instruction class and ask for help. Most times, students and faculty aren’t even aware of the free resources available to them through their school.


It sounds simple but I think a lot of students who think about pursuing a Masters don’t really think about the implications of how much reading and writing you’ll be doing, especially in the humanities and social sciences. I’ve found the more you read and write, the better you’ll become in processing, digesting and articulating your thoughts on any given reading. This will eventually hone your research and thesis work.


This might go along with point # 2 but use social media and informal gatherings to talk to others about your ideas. Present at conferences! I think back to how lucky I was to submit my draft thesis as a topic for my first Metal conference. Getting accepted to present was one of the best things to ever happen to me. I gained a network of academics who empowered me to keep continuing. In addition, because my topic was on Women and Extreme metal, finding folks in my own Anthropology department to support my interests was hard, so looking outside and talking with other metal academics was paramount. I presented at metal conferences, joined a professional metal academic organization and talked at popular culture conferences.

Another benefit was in 2014 when I attended the Popular Culture Association  Conference and was exposed to the idea of ‘Vigilante Feminism” which I wrote about in my thesis!

Now that it’s over, I’ve already been asked the dreaded – “Now what?” question. To answer that is simple – I’m going to take a much-needed break to focus on my current librarian work.

In my new position as Head of Technical Services there’s much to learn about and I doubt even a full year on the job will enable me to know everything. It takes time, but I’m glad to have some new free time to devote to my career. Even better, my work allows me, or in some cases requires me, to continue pursuing my research interests. That’s because part of being on the tenure track is taking Research Leave to work on projects and ideas I have that can be published and presented on. I’ll have 7 years until I’m eligible for consideration for tenure.

My current interests are manifold. I want to tie in my love of metal music to librarianship and so starting a special collection has always been a back burner idea. Moreover, the physical and artful nature of zines and programming is another interest I’ve had ever since volunteering at my very first Zinefest in 2016. I’m a comic-book and graphic novel lover, so liking zines is probably no surprise.

I’m also interested in gaming and literacy and how that might work in library instruction This pulls me back full circle to a project I presented back in my library school days on MMOG’s and instruction. I was completely influenced by Constance Steinkuehler. You’ll love her work!

And lastly, let’s not forget a new love of mine that came about because of my thesis work – Women’s Studies. When asked if I’d pursue a PHD, this was the only subject that I thought would ever bring me back to school. As you can tell, for now, I’m tired out. My plan is to see how my current tenure track position works out. If it looks like an opportunity presents itself (i.e.- an affordable part time PHD program) then I’ll reconsider, but for now, I’m pretty happy to just be writing and talking at conferences.


2016 Metal in Strange Places Conference

Hi folks, I don’t think I ever summarized the last conference I presented at but it was this past October – The Metal in Strange Places Conference. My husband did a great job of talking about it at his blog so instead of reinventing the wheel, I’ve re-posted his review of it here. Thanks Vish!

Mortal Equality


Last week, I flew to Ohio with the wife to attend the MISP (Metal in Strange Places) conference at University of Dayton. It was held in the same space as the 2014 MACI (Metal and Cultural Impact) conference and was coordinated by Bryan Bardine, who put together the previous one. Coming from a library slant, wifey presented on using social media as a resource for research and introduced the concept of the netnography to the group, which is essentially ethnographic research conducted using online resources, especially social media.

During her presentation, she used examples from her thesis work on women in New York’s extreme metal scene to illustrate steps of the research process. She also spoke about, and gave examples from, the Metal Music Librarians group on Facebook, which she created and is geared towards academic metal discussion. It includes CFP’s (call for…

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Heavy Music Artwork Magazine

Nice blog post over at Heavy Metal Overload. If you’re a librarian looking to add to your metal music titles – add this new serial to your “must buy” list. It’s a visually appealing magazine that highlights visual artists working under the umbrella of heavy metal music. It’s also way overdue.


Issue 1 - Dark Nouveau Issue 1 – Dark Nouveau

You can usually rely on metal albums to have stunning, provocative artwork and, even in the age of iTunes and Spotify, this doesn’t seem to be changing. And now, thanks to Alex Milazzo, the world of metal has its first and only art magazine dedicated to its artwork and artists. It’s called Heavy Music Artwork and its first two issues are available to buy at the magazine’s Indiegogo page.

I received my issues last week and they are beautiful things. Each issue is themed. The first issue Dark Nouveau covers artists and performers such as Ghost, John Dyer Baizley, Matt Vickerstaff and Zbigniew M. Bielak that have embraced the Art Nouveau style. And the second issue Folklore covers themes of cultural identity and heritage: featuring relevant artists and acts such as Adam Burke, Enslaved, Costin Chioreanu and Primordial. This second issue also introduces more…

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Cataloging the Margins: Zine Librarianship


One of the fun things about being in library school, particularly as an archivist, is interacting with different types of materials in the bibliographic universe. One area of librarianship and special collections that has particularly exciting for me has been working with the To the Front Zine Collection at my campus library. Zine librarianship presents an interesting intersection of archival practices and librarianship, while also posing a number of challenges for fitting zines into the practices and standards developed around printed books.

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Jo Bench (Bolt Thrower) – Collected interview snippets

An inspiring woman and a great blog post about her.

Ugly Bass Face

In my previous post about Jo Bench, I spoke about a dearth of information regarding her bass background. Since then, I’ve scoured the internet to find relevant interviews and articles about her that have some of that info. Here’s what I found:

  1. Jo Bench interview by Chazz and Lork K Philipson for Global Domination (from Bolt Thrower website)
  2. Bolt Thrower Interview – Leviatan Metal Magazine
  3. Cvlt Nation Interviews Bolt Thrower
  4. Eternal Terror: Jo Bench (Bolt Thrower) – I’m self-taught (fantastic bass info!)
  5. Tartarean Desire: Bolt Thrower interview

A website from the Netherlands called Kmachine had the following snippet about Jo:

She plays bass on all albums but not on the demos. She was asked to join Bolt Thrower when her then long-time boyfriend Gavin Ward had switched from bass guitar to guitar. She is one of the few women playing in a ultra-heavy death metal band…

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A new job and the start of pre-k

So it’s obvious from my blog title that I’ve been up to a million things this past summer. First among them is starting my new position as the Head of Technical Services at the Leonard Lief Library at Lehman College. I started at the beginning of CUNY’s Fall semester, and it’s been non-stop since. Having come from Columbia University’s Libraries, the differences are both unsurprising and abundant. Unlike Columbia, Leonard Lief’s library is at the same time small and big; small because it’s one library to serve the entire college and big because it’s part of the larger university wide collective – the CUNY Libraries. When I was at Columbia, I was working only in Butler, the main undergraduate library. Outside of Butler library there existed the art library, music library, social work library, etc. (all entities functioning as part of the Columbia University Libraries). While my work at Columbia will always hold a special place for me, I just don’t think I had the right opportunities for growth in the Acquisitions unit there. That’s simply and partly due to the size of such a university. And well…that’s all I have to say about that.

My new role as Head of Tech Services at Lehman is both a wonderful and challenging position. The first two full weeks consisted of my shadowing technical service staff to get an overview of current procedures and practice and then attending meetings with the CUNY collective groups in Cataloging and Electronic Resources. The CUNY committees have been an indispensable think tank of librarians, helping me to learn and adjust to how library technical services has worked in the past.

To add, learning all about CUNYFirst and Lehman Finance operations has been interesting. Lehman functions in duality; first as it’s own college entity and at the same time as part of the CUNY branch libraries. So one can imagine there being a lot to learn with regard to shared resources, acquisitions of said resources, and the ways in which each college’s tech services functions, both locally and centrally. Plenty to learn, but challenging aspects that I’m taking in stride.

Reporting to my chief librarian has also been bright and optimistic. His support of both my position trajectory and personal scholarly interests (Metal Music Studies) has made for an accommodating transition. It also doesn’t hurt to work with library faculty and staff who are both informative and kind. The overall vibe here is that everyone wants to see the library evolve and succeed.

And the most attractive aspect of my new position – seeing a faculty and student body that is full of diversity. With my work, research on gender studies and social justice issues, it comes with an edifying feeling to finally be part of an institution that understands the importance of diversity and inclusivity.

All the new learning aside, I’ve had the serendipitous luck to be starting at a time where we also have a new college president-President Jose Luis Cruz, whose convocation speech already addresses goals to work towards for the 2016-2017 school year. With this optimistic zeal and outlook, it seems that new and exciting opportunities abound in my academic path and I’m looking eagerly towards its development.

On top of all this new change for me, our daughter started pre-k the week after I started the new job. Here she is on her first day, sans socks or shoes! Talk about a week of new beginnings.


It was a week of many firsts. I took the first day of pre-k off just so that I could make sure I was available and be by my cell phone the entire day in case of some crazy emergency.

In reflection, my husband and I both laughed when we realized how we were acting like such “newbie” parents and the obvious nervousness we exuded at drop-off. All the seasoned parents with more than one kid simply said hi to the new pre-k teacher and basically gave their kid a kiss/hug and were like, “peace out.”

Not us…we had to linger, a good 15-20 minutes at that.

We finally left when Ella ignored us in favor of her new classroom toys. Such is pre-k life.