Sean Williams


Contact and location


My name is Sean Williams, and I have taught at Evergreen since 1991; though I was invited here to teach ethnomusicology/world music, we are all deeply interdisciplinary. In addition to music, I frequently teach about culture and language. Every three years I teach Irish Studies (history, film, language, folklore, music, food, poetry, and more) and conclude with spring quarter study abroad. It is a model for how to understand a place and its people, and I apply that same model to my teaching in other area studies. I particularly enjoy teaching about liminality—the in-between—and issues of race, class, and gender; liminality in connection with music is actually the subject of my current book (my ninth). My publications include works about Indonesian, Brazilian, Arabian, South African, and Japanese musical cultures, but also about grammar and food. I am a Fulbright scholar and an award-winning writer; find me at


Ph.D., Music, University of Washington, 1990; M.A., Music, University of Washington, 1985; B.A., Music, University of California, Berkeley, 1981.

Teaching Style

I use as many tools to teach as I can; I use PowerPoint presentations as a springboard for discussion rather than as a duplication of what students can read in a book. I use my singing voice and musical instruments to illustrate my points, and we always put theory into practice through learning by doing. My students learn to play music, sing, write, and think critically about what they hear, see, and read.

Path Affiliation

Fields of Study