Gary Miller

Associate Professor
617 747-8175

"I would like my students to know that history is important, and that what happened in the past still has a very direct impact on the world we live in today. My students tend to congratulate themselves on living in the most enlightened, progressive, and modern time. I think they often tend to assume that people living in the past were stupid and backwards. I try to knock that idea out of their heads. I want them to look on the people of the past as different but not stupid—and maybe even, in some ways, better than we are. . . . I never have trouble getting a discussion going in class. They're not wallflowers. They're used to performing!"

"I don't teach music history but it certainly comes up quite often. For example, in my Nazi Germany class we often spend some time talking about Nazi policies towards music. Jazz, for instance, was regarded as primitive and backwards and racially inferior, and was therefore banned. Obviously any music—even highly esteemed classical music—by a Jewish composer was banned. Anything modern, anything atonal was regarded with grave suspicion. That's a good way to get them talking about bigger issues."

"You get students from all over the place. Last year we were talking about Occupied France during the war, Vichy France. Do people collaborate, do they resist? I had a student who was French, and his grandfather faced that very question. As I recall, his grandfather was terrified. Once we were talking about the '20s in Germany, where there was hyperinflation. The government was printing ever-larger denominations, like one trillion marks. A student brought in a whole bunch of this money. We were passing it around and looking at it."

 

 

Career Highlights

 

  • B.A., University of California at Davis
  • Ph.D., Yale University
  • Fulbright Scholar in Germany
  • Berklee faculty member since 2002
  • Previously taught at Boston University and Boston College