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Graduate Course Offerings

Fall 2014 Graduate Course Offerings

Folk-F516 Folklore Theory in Practice
F 9:30am-12:00pm
Instructor: Jason Jackson
Location: Mathers Museum
Course # 8445

This course is a graduate seminar that introduces students to the field of folklore studies (folkloristics). Students will encounter the major theories and methods that have been developed in folkloristics for the study of expressive forms and vernacular cultures in social and historical context. To pursue such inquiry requires grappling with the key debates and social contexts that have shaped the study of folklore. Important case studies from the literature of folkloristics will be examined, appreciated, critiqued and contextualized. Students will become familiar with a range of approaches to the study of expressive culture in four broad generic areas: (1) verbal folklore, (2) material culture, (3) composite and performance genres, and (4) customary knowledge and practice. Folkloristics will be situated within a wider constellation of disciplines and interdisciplinary projects concerned with the human condition and we will begin to wrestle with the distinctive roles that folklorists might play in the contemporary world.

Folk-E522 The Study of Ethnomusicology
T 1:00-3:30pm
Instructor: Daniel Reed
Location: 501 N Park Ave
Course # 13829

Intended for graduate students specializing in the field, this course is designed as an introduction to ethnomusicology as an academic discipline. Its primary goal is to introduce students to the various aspects of the field as a whole, focusing on what ethnomusicologists have done and are doing; how they have conceptualized the field in terms of definitions, scope, significance, and relations with others; and their theories, methods, and goals.

As an overall introduction to the various aspects of the field, the course provides background for more specialized courses in topics such as fieldwork, theory, intellectual history, and world areas. Topics include: Histories, definitions, and applications of ethnomusicology; Key issues and points of debate; Key concepts, theories and methods; Ethnomusicologists and their work; Activities in which ethnomusicologists engage (including musical ethnography, analysis, and public practice); and ethnomusicology’s relations with other disciplines focused on the study of music, people, culture, and society.

In addition to serving as the introductory required course for ethnomusicology graduate students, E522 can fulfill the following requirements:

M.A./Ph.D. in Folklore: a) the one required course in ethnomusicology and/or b) a “theory” course.
Ph.D. minor in ethnomusicology: a “core course.”

Folk-F525 Readings in Ethnography
T 10:00am-12:30pm
Instructor: Michael Dylan Foster
Location: 501 N Park Ave
Course # 18345

This course broadly considers “ethnography” as an expressive genre of vital significance within the study of folklore. By reading examples of ethnographic writing from a range of historical periods in conjunction with relevant theoretical works, we will explore the history, form, and function of this mode of critical discourse. Throughout the course we will ask questions about narrative style, the presentation of the “self,” representations of the “other,” the dynamics of outsider versus insider, and the relationship of “facts” to “interpretation.” We will consider texts as products of particular historical and cultural contexts and also as resources for contemporary academic interpretation. While primary focus will be on scholarly ethnographies, one objective of the course is to explore innovative and creative ways of writing about other cultures; we will think about how fiction, dairies, travel literature, journalism and biography fit (or do not fit) within the ethnographic project. Throughout the course we will be attentive to theoretical issues of context, cultural essentialism, and the roles of language, narrative and self-reflexivity in ethnographic expression.

Folk-F545 Narrative Songs
M 1:30-4:00pm
Instructor: John McDowell
Location: 501 N Park Ave
Course # 31302

Telling stories in song is deeply human and likely a universal practice, closely associated with such important social tasks as processing memory, building community, commemorating heroes, and marking of personal and group identity. In this seminar we sample a wide range of narrative song, in a variety of genres and settings, to assess the important work done by stories set to music.

Our journey centers on two genres that have engaged the interest of folklorists (and scholars in several other fields), ballad and epic. We visit the famed ballad traditions of the British Isles, the protest songs twentieth-century America, the Spanish romance and its modern-day offshoots, the Mexican corrido (and now the narcocorrido); we also take up the oral epic in several of its manifestations, paying attention to ancient, recent, and contemporary examples, and tracing epic traditions in several world areas. In addition, we shall closely observe the centrality of narrative song in a number of hot spots around globe at the current moment.

The unifying threads are a set of stylistic features activated in linking words to music, an assessment of the special affective force marshalled when songs that tell stories are launched in social gatherings, and an analysis of the ways narrative song enters into and shapes personal experience, commemorative projects, and the building of community at all levels of social cohesion. 

Folk-F545 Contemporary Approaches to Myth
T 4:00-6:30pm
Instructor: Greg Schrempp
Location: 501 N Park Ave
Course # 31303

This course will focus upon five contemporary issues.

1.  Is myth a dangerous analytical category?
We will look at the controversy around Witzel’s The Origins of the World’s Mythologies and writings by Doniger, Sahlins, Detienne, and Lincoln. 

2.  Do traditional mythologies reflect actual historical or geological events?
We will consider Plato’s Critias and the Barbers’ recent When They Severed Earth from Sky.  

3.  Is science mythology?
Readings will be from the instructor’s recent work (The Ancient Mythology of Modern Science). 

4.  Is popular culture mythology?
We will discuss the mythic in film-writing and cultural criticism, the Mythic Imagination Institute, and other topics.

5.  Is myth a distinct mode of cognition? 
The focus will be connections between myth study, philosophy of mind, and cognitive sciences (e.g., E. Rosch’s recent work on categorization).

No prerequisite knowledge. Requirements include presentations and two 10-page essays. 

Folk-F635 Roma (Gypsy) History & Culture
TR 1:00-2:15pm
Instructor: Lynn Hooker
Location: Ballantine Hall 141
Course # 30759

Class meets with FOLK-F330, CEUS-R342, and CEUS-R542. How have the Roma been depicted by majority society? How have they used expressive culture to re-shape their identity? This course explores the history and culture of Europe's largest minority, commonly known in English as "Gypsies," more properly referred to as Roma, Sinti or Gitano. Since arriving in Europe in the thirteenth century, they 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 have also made themselves indispensable to folk and popular music practices around the European continent. In the last few decades, even as the human rights situation for Roma has deteriorated, a growing elite is forging an international pan-Roma movement - and representing itself artistically through music and film. We will survey both how this "mysterious" group has been represented, and how they have responded creatively to these representations.

Folk-E698 African-American Religious Music
W 9:30am-12:00pm
Instructor: Mellonee Burnim
Location: Woodburn Hall 205
Course # 33049

Using both a socio-cultural and a historical perspective, this course explores the major forms of African American religious music indigenous to the United States, (Negro Spirituals and gospel music), as well as those Euro-American musical expressions that have emerged as integral parts of the African American worship experience.  Students are engaged in multi-layered experiences of history, aesthetics and ethnography through the frequent utilization of audio and video recordings, as well as participant observation in African American churches.  The course format is both diachronic and synchronic, so designed to assist students in recognizing relationships between different forms of African American musical expression, despite their differing time frames and contexts of origin.

Folk-F712 Body Art
R 9:45am-12:15pm
Instructor: Brandon Barker
Location: 501 N Park Ave
Course # 30766

In many ways, human bodies are the universal artistic canvas. All people shape, clothe, ornament, and decorate their bodies. Focusing on aesthetics, communication, and body image, this seminar analyzes the intersection of culture and the body as folk art. Class topics will include tattoo, scarification, face painting, makeup, henna, hair, jewelry and dress in all of its varieties, from daily attire, to costume and folk dress. Alongside such practices of adornment, we will consider folkloristic approaches to body conditioning practices like dieting, tanning, and body building.

Folk-F722 Popular Music & the Cultural Industries
R 1:30-4:30pm
Instructor: Javier León
Location: 510 N Fess Ave
Course # 18356

This seminar will explore how different schools of thought and intellectual traditions have sought to grapple with these questions, ultimately evaluating the potential contribution that each can make to the ethnographic study of music and popular culture.  We will begin by examining several foundational texts, including works by Marx, Grasmci, Williams, Bourdieu, and the Frankfurt and Birmingham Schools.  Attention will then shift to contemporary popular music research in the fields of ethnomusicology, musicology, popular culture studies, anthropology, communications, and folklore.  We will place particular emphasis on issues concerning the production and consumption of popular culture, the impact of globalization on local forms of music making, the relationship of popular music to the so-called creative industries, the implications of the emergence of new media technologies, and the commodification of musical forms of knowledge under neoliberalism.

Folk-F755 Ethnography of Health & Illness
T 1:00-3:30pm
Instructor: Diane Goldstein
Location: 510 N Fess Ave
Course # 29640

This course will investigate the field of folklore and health systems from an ethnographic and phenomenological perspective.  The focus will be on cross-cultural issues in health care including: lay health belief and biomedical belief models; negotiation and trans-cultural health care; applications and systems theory; contrasting definitions of what constitutes health, illness, reportable symptoms and incapacity; notion of disease processes and etiology; religious and moral convictions that influence responses to illness and treatment; and expectations of the sick role and care giver role; all presented through the discussion of specific traditional medical practices commonly found in Western society.  Crucial to this approach will be an examination of traditional health systems as expressions of world-view.