Theo Garneau


Office hours:
KUY 218: MWF 10:30-11:20

In an earlier career as a professional guitarist and bassist, I dreamed of playing with the funk of Jaco Pastorius and the wizardry of Jim Hall. Though I never quite got there, I did perform as a union musician over the years with Phylicia Rashad, Maureen McGovern, Ben E. King, Bob Hope, Mark Russell, Dave Brubeck, and many others. I performed with Hawaii's own Don Ho, Loyal Garner, Martin Denny, Gabe Baltazar Jr., and Ginai. I recorded solo guitar pieces for National Public Radio's All Things Considered and was sponsored for a National Endowment for the Arts grant by the composer George Russell. A later love of and engagement with the French language brought me back to academia, to the University of Hawaii, where I've continued studying, researching, teaching, and writing. And, of course, playing the ukulele, preferably a tenor.


BOOK: If It Swings, It's Music: The Autobiography of Hawaii's Gabe Baltazar Jr. Honolulu: U of Hawaii P, 2012. Nominated for excellence in nonfiction by the Hawaii Book Publishers Association.


  • Yim, Susan, Ed. We Go Jam: Celebrating Our Music, Our Soundscape, Our Hawai‘i. Honolulu: Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities, 2012. Excerpt from If It Swings, It’s Music: The Autobiography of Hawai‘i’s Gabe Baltazar Jr. (with Theo Garneau). 47–49.
  • Izzo, David Garret, and Kim Kirkpatrick. Huxley’s Brave New World: Essays. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2008. “Brave New World as Prototypical Musicalized Fiction.” 13244.
  • Gonzalves, Theodore S. Stage Presence: Conversations with Filipino American Performing Artists. St. Helena: Meritage Press, 2007. “Gabe Baltazar Jr.” 13954.


  • “Book Celebrates Hawaii Jazz Legend Gabe Baltazar Jr.” Interview by Rowen Tabusa. University of Hawaii System Videos. 22 Apr. 2014. Web.
  • “Pioneering Asian-American Jazzman Recalls Musical Journey.” Interview by Heidi Chang. Voice of America. Voice of America 26 Feb. 2014. Web.
  • “If It Swings: An Asian-American Jazzman’s Pioneering Career.” Interview by Heidi Chang. All Things Considered: Weekend Edition Saturday. NPR. 28 Sept. 2013. Web.

Areas of Interest

  • composition and rhetoric; English grammar; technology and student engagement; memoir/autobiography; utopian/dystopian literature; music and literature; music criticism; jazz history.
  • languages and cultures: French, Italian, Greek.


  • Winner of the 2010 Biography Prize, UH Manoa.
  • Winner of a 2004 University of Hawaii Chancellor's Research  Achievement Award.
  • Winner of the University of Hawaii's Regent's prize for Excellence in Research, 2002.
  • Recipient of a John Young Scholarship for the Arts, 2007.


  • PhD in English with a specialization in biography; music and literature; utopian/dystopian literature. UH Manoa, 2009.
  • MA in English literature with a focus on composition, rhetoric, and the rhetoric of music. UH Manoa, 2004.
  • MA in French literature with a focus on 20th-century French literature. UH Manoa, 2002.
  • BM, classical guitar performance. State University of New York, Potsdam, 1976.


Fall Semester 2016
  • ENG-100: Composition I

Spring Semester 2016
  • ENG-100: Composition I

Fall Semester 2015
  • ENG-100: Composition I
  • ENG-270: The Utopian/Dystopian Tradition from Plato to the Present