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Inner Asian & Uralic National Resource Center (IAUNRC) Sinor Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies (SRIFIAS) Center for Languages of the Central Asian Region (CeLCAR) Summer Language Workshop (SWSEEL)
Central Eurasian Studies >> Courses >> Course List
Roma (Gypsy) History and Culture
CEUS-R 342/R542 
Lynn Hooker

This course carries CASE S&H & CASE GCC designations


Europe’s largest minority, commonly known in English as “Gypsies,” more properly referred to as Roma, Sinti or Gitano, have been enslaved, hunted down, imprisoned, and generally reviled; at the same time, they have fascinated members of the majority, and writers, artists, and composers have exploited the exotic flavoring they find in the image of “Gypsiness.” Roma musicians are also indispensable to folk and popular music practices around the European continent.  In this course, we will survey historical events in Roma history and address problems in writing about a people whose culture is perceived as predominantly oral. We will also examine both how this “mysterious” group has been represented, especially through music, and how its members have responded creatively to these representations.

Through the use of current research and writing techniques and oral presentations, students will demonstrate a broad knowledge of the Roma, their history, and their evolving role in global society and culture. This course does not require a background in East European studies, music, or film; we will do quite a bit of directed listening, viewing, and writing in class.


Fraser, Angus. 1995. The Gypsies. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Fonseca, Isabel. 1996. Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey. New York: Vintage.

Margalit, Gilad. 2002. Germany and Its Gypsies: A Post-Auschwitz Ordeal. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.

Crowe, David. 1996. A History of the Gypsies of Eastern Europe and Russia. New York: St. Martin's Press.

Tong, Diane. 1989. Gypsy Folktales. San Diego: Harcourt Brace.

Additional readings will be made available through the Kent Cooper Room in the main library, through our course website, and/or through electronic reserve. Listening assignments may be made available either here in OnCourse or through Variations 2, the music library's system for delivering audio material online.

Important journal: Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society, 1889-1999 (RCFOLK -- DX101 .G9)
Romani Studies (RCFOLK -- DX101 .G6; continuation of JGLS.  Issues from 2000 to present available online through IUCAT.)

Romani Studies (RCFOLK -- DX101 .G6; continuation of JGLS.  Issues from 2000 to present available online through IUCAT.)

Course Requirements:
Attendance and active participation are expected.  As mentioned above, we will do quite a bit of directed listening, viewing, and writing in class; therefore it will be very difficult for you to do well if you are not there.  Likewise, you must do the reading and listening assignments in advance to take part in class discussion.

Undergraduate course requirements:
Over the course of the semester you are asked eight times to write briefly about the reading, listening, or viewing assigned for that period. These are meant to be short (1-3 pages) responses to reading/listening/viewing assignments rather than formal essays.

Of the eight microthemes, the lowest grade will be dropped.

Essay assignments
Undergraduates will do two essay assignments during the semester, one done as a group project, another done individually.  Instructions for Essay Assignment #1 are distributed with this syllabus; instructions for Essay Assignments #2 and #3 will be distributed online (through Oncourse) well before they are due. 

Grade Components:

Attendance/participation: 5%
Microthemes: 4% each * 7 = 28%
Essay assignment #1 (Group project/presentation): 10%
Essay assignment #2 (Film or literature analysis - 3-5 pages): 20%
Essay assignment #3 (Brief research paper on music group 3-5 pages): 22%        

Graduate course requirements:

Attendance/participation 15%
Attendance and active participation are an essential part of this course. Graduate students will meet as a separate group at least one time during the semester, at a mutually agreeable time, in lieu of the session where the midterm exam will be administered. We will arrange one additional meeting if possible.

Analysis of work of art/film/literature/music    15%

Research project and preparatory assignments