Susan Isabelle Allen
I am currently a Conjoint Fellow at the University of Newcastle, Australia. My doctoral thesis, René Maran’s Batouala, Jazz-Text , was recently published by Peter Lang (2015). A related article, “Batouala, ou le jazz malgré lui [Batouala/, or unintentional jazz]”, was published in Francis Hofstein (ed), l’art du jazz [the art of jazz]/ (Paris: Editions du Félin, 2011).
Writing and the deployment of sensory skills have been common threads in my trajectory from an undergraduate degree in science (UNSW, 1973) to the present. I first combined these in the area of food and wine. To post-graduate qualifications in “Dietetics and Nutrition” (USyd, 1974) were added post-graduate diplomas in “The History and Philosophy of Food” and “Oenology” (UNSW, 1979-1980). After several decades’ experience in the food and wine fields in writing and tasting capacities I became Australia’s first female professional winner of the Vin de Champagne Award and relocated to Paris. There I published a newsletter for international wine professionals, worked as a journalist and translator for wine publications, participated in professional wine judging panels and launched Australian wines on the French market.
While in Paris, exposure to African and African-American music and musicians led to the revival of a lapsed interest in the piano, and indirectly to the discovery of F. M. Alexander’s work (Alexander Technique), which I subsequently trained to teach. Returning to academic studies in 2002, I found that my intellectual discussion of black music-literature and jazz performance increasingly demanded its musical expression for the full understanding of my subject. This brilliant counterfoil (boogie, blues, New Orleans piano) was so successful that I became Australia’s first performer at La Roquebrou, the largest international festival of boogie music. In addition, over twenty years’ teaching experience of F.M. Alexander’s principles of human operation that manifest at the sensory register permitted a finely-tuned appreciation of the processes of black meta-communication.
Once again Paris-based, my research in jazz philosophy and other aspects of black music-literature integration continues in collaboration with scholars and musicians, and in conjunction with the development of my musical skills.