Office: Modesto A. Maidique Campus, DM 399
PhD, Florida International University, 2016
Dr. Micah Oelze is a scholar of Modern Latin America, especially of Brazil. His historical research looks at the politics of cultural production (music, art, architecture, and literature) in the first half of the twentieth century. Currently he is finishing his first book manuscript, entitled “Composing Brazil’s National Psychology.” The project tracks a series of artists and composers in 1930s Rio and São Paulo that teamed up with local ethnographers and psychologists. Together they formed a generation of social reformers who believed it was possible to use music education, choral singing, and symphonies to modernize the nation’s collective psychology. The book project uses archival documents, ethnographic recordings, and symphony manuscripts to show how Brazil’s concert music was created according to this scientific framework. The composers believed that their symphonies would induce mental development and create experiences that could be qualified as scientifically Brazilian.
The project, of course, had all sorts of shortcomings, not least of which was that fact that it did not work. But the effects of the interventions, many of them unexpected, account for the most exciting parts of the book.
In preparing the manuscript, Dr. Oelze has had the privilege of working in more than a dozen archives and museums across Brazil. In addition, his research has benefited from the generous support of the Tinker Foundation, the Fulbright-Hays Foundation, the US Department of Education, and Florida International. Most recently, his work was featured in the Journal of Latin American Studies, and awarded FIU’s Provost Award for Outstanding Manuscript.
This year at FIU, Dr. Oelze is teaching general courses on Modern US History and thematic courses on Latin America, including “Music, Modernity, and National Identity in Latin America,” and “History of Brazil.” He works with history majors to ensure they are competent with historical thinking concepts and then trains students of all majors to understand how they can use lessons from the past to wisely think through current challenges.
Learn more about Dr. Oelze’s research and teaching at micahoelze.com