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Fall 2015 Graduate Course Offerings

Folk-F516 Folklore Theory in Practice
Instructor: Jason Jackson
F 9:30am-12:00pm
Course # 4017

Location: Mathers Museum Gallery (M2 110)

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
Instructor: Daniel Reed
R 12:30-3:00pm
Course # 8912

Location: 501 N Park Ave

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
Instructor: Greg Schrempp
T 4:00-6:30pm
Course # 12526

Location: 501 N Park Ave

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 Digital Ethnomusicology & Folklore
Instructor: Ruth Stone
T 1:00-3:30pm
Course # 14705
Location: IDAH Conference Room, Library E171
Fulfills: Form

This course focuses on the technology of the digital arts and humanities that have provided substantive breakthroughs in how data in ethnomusicology and folklore can be recorded, analyzed, presented, and preserved.  Students will explore issues associated with a number of areas, including but not limited to “big data,” blogging, digital video and audio data recording and preservation, video annotation and segmentation for analysis and teaching, and website development.  Class exercises and projects will provide the opportunity for exploring techniques relevant to the digital arts and humanities.

Explore digital technology tools in the arts and humanities— and their possibilities in ethnomusicology and folklore

No previous computing experience required.

Folk-E608 Music in African Film
Instructor: Ruth Stone
MW 9:30-10:45am
Course # 30929

Location: Woodburn Hall 002
Fulfills: Area

Films that portray Africa—whether created by American, European, or African filmmakers—weave their powerful spell across globally linked communities.  These films are created by a range of individuals who bring broadly differing perspectives to the task.  Hollywood filmmakers begin from the context of a tradition that promulgated the Tarzan movies. African filmmakers start from the history of colonialism that forms a strong backdrop for their images and plots.  The differing perspectives influence the richly varied images that are presented and apprehended about Africa. Music threads its way through the fabric of these films, interacting with what is seen on the screen. This course will bring the audio dimension to the fore in order to analyze what kinds of sounds are selected, what implications exist for those selections, and how some of those sound tracks have been or might be interpreted.  The films to be screened will range from large scale Hollywood to local African productions.

Folk-F635 Irish Folklore
Instructor: Ray Cashman
TR 11:15am-12:30pm
Course # 14336
Location: 800 N Indiana Ave
Fulfills: Area or Form

This course introduces the popular beliefs, vernacular customs, material culture, and especially, oral traditions of Ireland.  Topics include supernatural legends of ghosts and fairies, folktales and heroic tales, traditional customs at wakes and holy wells, seasonal drama including mumming, folk history in song and story, and vernacular forms of political expression such as annual commemorative parades and public murals.

Although much of Irish folklore has roots in the far distant past, we will focus on those traditions documented from the 19th through 21st centuries—a period during which folklore inspired an Irish literary revival and served the nation-building project of a newly independent republic. We will conclude with an investigation of the politics of culture and identity in contemporary Northern Ireland where the legacy of British colonialism remains most pronounced.

Assignments include a midterm exam, final paper, and a transcription project in which students take materials collected by the Irish Folklore Commission in the 1930s and make them digitally accessible for scholars and the general public.

Folk-F677 Popular Culture & Politics in the Middle East
Instructor: David McDonald
MW 1:00-2:15pm
Course # 30356

Location: Student Building 220
Fulfills: Area

This undergraduate/graduate course will examine the dynamics of popular culture and mass media throughout the Middle East (including Turkey, Israel, and Iran) and North Africa.  Although performative arts, mass media, and popular culture have often been deemed as epiphenomenal in Middle Eastern studies, this course proceeds from the idea that popular culture and performance are in fact foundational means for negotiating power and resistance, social interaction, and identity. Through our readings, lectures, discussions, and various written assignments students will confront the many ways in which popular culture has had a formative and foundational impact upon conceptions of identity in the Middle East.  Our readings will build upon fundamental anthropological understandings of social groups, the linkages of culture and agency, and the various forms of power and resistance articulated through expressive and material culture.  Various case studies will explore Egyptian soap operas, Iraqi comic books, Turkish heavy metal, Arab pop music, Israeli and Palestinian cinema, Algerian love songs, and the impact these media have had on contemporary understandings of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, and globalization in the Middle East.

Folk-F713 Food: Art & Identity
Instructor: Pravina Shukla
M 1:45-4:15pm
Course # 30365

Location: 501 N Park Ave
Fulfills: Theory or Form

This graduate seminar will center on the crucial topic of food – the production, preparation, and consumption of food, and the customs and symbolic behavior it entails – for food is an aspect of material culture that involves everyone every day. Because of its universal, panhuman nature, food offers a meaningful variable through which we can compare and contrast cultures, enlightening ourselves with regard to the world view of others, while learning more about ourselves in the process. In addition to reading books and articles, the students would learn about foodways from films, literature, and from small fieldwork projects in grocery stores, restaurants, and domestic kitchens.

Class topics will include farming, festival foods, recipes and cookbooks, and food in art, in fiction, in film. A variety of examples will lead toward an understanding of the manifold meanings of food, its aesthetic and sensory aspects, the social dimensions of preparation and consumption, and food in relation to social class, ethnic and regional identities in the United States, Latin America, and Asia. Students will read relevant writings from the disciplines of Folklore, Anthropology, American Studies, Cultural Geography, and History.

Folk-F722 Nationalism & Expressive Culture
Instructor: Sue Tuohy
T 7:00-9:30pm
Course # 30374

Location: 501 N Park Ave
Fulfills: Theory or Form

This course will explore the relations between nationalism and expressive culture, including topics such as: 1) the ways nationalist, revolutionary, and independence movements have employed expressive forms (music and song, folklore, narrative, drama, visual arts, and so on) as symbolic resources and forms of action; 2) cultural performances and displays of the “nation”; 3) ideas and practices related to “national music”; and 4) the connections between nationalism and the emergence of scholarly disciplines, include folklore.  We will study these issues both through a set of interdisciplinary theoretical writings; and as they are exemplified in case studies.  Among the basic issues to be investigated are the ways people use the arts—as agents of social change and as forms of representation and of social organization—to create collectives, to disseminate messages, to imagine and transform society, and to mobilize people and change perceptions.

The course will begin with key readings on theories of nationalism, including those positing different “forms” of nationalism and national groups.  Approximately 1/3 of the class will be devoted to individual projects, providing ample opportunity to explore resources related to a region or group, cultural form, research question, and/or topic through an annotated bibliography, a short literature review, a proposal, presentation, and substantive research project.

Folk-F734 Folklore & Literature
Instructor: Michael Dylan Foster
W 4:00-6:30pm
Course # 30374
Location: 501 N Park Ave
Fulfills: Theory

This seminar focuses on approaches and methods of folklore research and writing based primarily on the use of textual materials as opposed to ethnographic fieldwork. Literary works, historical documents, film, artwork, scientific treatises, newspapers, popular media and other written or visual materials give folklorists insight into the cultural concerns and worldviews of particular places and times. Such texts are critical for accessing the values and belief systems of people from the past and can also complement and enrich fieldwork in the present. They shed light on the processes by which ideas and aesthetic tropes are transmitted from one place to another and from one generation to the next.
In this seminar, we will read and discuss exemplary works from folklore and associated disciplines (such as history, comparative literature, anthropology, and cultural studies) that were crafted from careful interpretation of literary works and historical documents. We will also consider theoretical and methodological differences between various academic disciplines, exploring how folkloristics can benefit from and contribute to discourses on historiography, literary studies, and popular culture. Students will be given the opportunity to undertake several kinds of research projects themselves, allowing them to venture into the archives and practice the analytical skills appropriate for literary and historical research.

Folk-F750 Performance Studies
Instructor: John McDowell
M 4:30-7:00pm
Course # 30401
Location: 501 N Park Ave
Fulfills: Theory

In this course we survey creative and poetic uses of language in social settings conducive to the deployment of conventional speech forms. We assess spoken-word performances in ludic (playful), conversational, commemorative, ceremonial, and ritual modalities, in (and between) genres such as joke, riddle, proverb, story, song, ballad, legend, and myth. The main queries for the course are these:

1. How do performances rooted in speech incorporate musical elements such as rhythm and melody, and to what effect?

2. What is the role of parallel construction, figurative language, and other related poetic features, in artistic verbal performances?

3. How do these performances become vehicles for pursuing individual and group goals?

4. What are the viable tactics for documenting verbal performances and for ascertaining their social impact?

Readings for this course are drawn from the substantial literatures on the ethnography of speaking and ethnopoetics, with emphasis on sources that have proved to be most influential among folklorists. Students will be expected to contribute heartily to seminar discussions, to complete a series of exercises, and to write a term paper developing an original thesis in the broad areas covered during the semester.

Folk-F755 Music & Mysticism
Instructor: Alisha Lola Jones
T 4:00-6:30pm
Course # 14926
Location: 510 N Fess Ave
Fulfills: Theory

Within many societies around the world, music is understood to be endowed with properties that induce mystic experiences. Scholars such as Maxwell Steer have described mysticism as a transcultural realm of experience shaped by shared memory and history. In this course, we will examine music and mysticism in relation to a broad spectrum of religious expression. Our discussions will center on the myriad ways in which mysticism is articulated, e.g., nirvana, Shambhala, mystical union, alchemical marriage, Buddhahood, mushin, shekinah, and the common goals of other teachings. With consideration of these traditions and others, we will examine the ways in which they strive toward a consciousness or being beyond one’s self, often while in involuntary states. We endeavor to seek precise tools with which we will consider the complexities in a comparative religious ethnographic fieldwork. While doing so, we will explore the following five dimensions of mysticism in musical performance: experiential, ideological, ritual, intellectual, and consequential. With attention to music and mysticism as a vast area of scholarship, we will ask: through what means does mysticism “sound”?