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Spring 2017 Graduate Course Offerings

Folk-F523 Fieldwork in Ethnomusicology
Instructor: Sue Tuohy
R 12:45-3:15pm
Course # 5996
Location: Classroom Office Building 102

This course offers an in-depth introduction into ethnographic research in ethnomusicology through reading, conversation, practice, and writing.  It is designed with an optimistic attitude of integrating the best of ethnographic theory and practice with practice in the present and planning for the future. Course texts will include readings on diverse ethnographic theories and qualitative research methods; on issues of research ethics, project design, and writing and representation; examples of the ways fieldwork has been conceptualized and carried out in the fields of ethnomusicology, anthropology, and folklore; and selections from musical ethnographies. The primary focus of class activities and assignments will be on the “doing” of ethnographic fieldwork, including practicing varied methods of field research, from taking field notes and other modes of documentation to participant observation, data management, and other techniques.

The course is required for graduate students in the Ethnomusicology track of the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology. This section of F523 fulfills one of the "core course requirements" for PhD minors in the Ethnomusicology Program and for School of Music cognates. The course is open to graduate students in all fields interested in qualitative research methods.

Folk-F523 Fieldwork in Folklore
Instructor: Pravina Shukla
M 1:45-4:15pm
Course # 31391
Location: Wylie Hall 111

In this class, students will learn about fieldwork by doing it, as well as reading about it. We will read an ethnographic work, and discuss the methodology employed by the author. We will read how-to fieldwork manuals. But we will also do many small fieldwork projects, getting comfortable with the questions that haunt all novice fieldworkers: how do I contact people? What do I say to them? When do I take out my tape recorder and camera? How do I catalog my information?
Students in the class are required to engage in the main techniques of fieldwork: observation, documentation using a notebook, a camera, and an audio recorder, interviewing, interpretation, and also the written presentations of fieldwork findings and oral presentations that employ technological aids. During the class meetings students discuss the theoretical, practical, and ethical/moral issues of fieldwork from the standpoint of their own experience. Students are required to abstract general principles and provide specific examples based on their own work, feedback, personal feelings, and reflections. In this way, it is my hope, they internalize many of the theories and practices of fieldwork, relegating them to second nature. When one encounters the complexity and confusion of a real field situation, one should not have to think about fieldwork, but find it possible to act quickly and productively. Students will learn self-confidence, and develop a knowledge that will enable them to conduct research on their own.

Folk-F525 Readings in Ethnography
Instructor: John McDowell
M 4:30-7:00pm
Course # 31392
Location: Classroom Office Building 272

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-F532 Public Practice in Folklore & Ethnomusicology
Instructor: Jon Kay
T 10:30am-12:30pm
Course # 31393
Location: Mathers Museum of World Cultures Conference Room

From curating exhibitions and producing events to creating documentary films and hosting school residencies, many folklore and ethnomusicology graduates make their careers outside of the academy. This course introduces students to the history, methods, and theories that underpin these disciplinary practices and explores the various public sectors where folklorists and ethnomusicologists find work. Students will participate in hands-on exercises that will familiarize them with grant writing, exhibition design, and festival production.

Folk-F536 Ethnography of Belief
Instructor: Diane Goldstein
W 2:30-5:00pm
Course # 31532
Location: Classroom Office Building 272

Ethnography is the description of (cultural) behaviour preparatory to analysis and interpretation, although description and interpretation are never really separated despite the scientific ideal.  Since belief is primarily a cognitive behaviour, it presents interesting and special problems for the ethnographer.  The ethnography of belief (as an ethnography of an activity which is not directly observable) is particularly dependent on inference and presents interesting difficulties in the separation of observation and interpretation.

This course will sample, critique and practice approaches to the ethnography of systems of belief and will look closely at the resulting descriptions.  The role of personal experience and tradition in the development and maintenance of such systems of belief will be emphasized.  Belief systems will be considered in terms of their descriptive methodologies, internal logic and methods of acquiring and evaluating evidence, and their means of transmitting explanations.  The course will be divided into three areas of belief: the supernatural, folk religion and folklore and health.

Folk-F635 Irish Folklore
Instructor: Ray Cashman
MW 9:30-10:45am
Course # 31397
Location: Cedar Hall C102

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-E714 Paradigms of Ethnomusicology
Instructor: David McDonald
T 2:00-4:30pm
Course # 31062

Location: Classroom Office Building 272

This graduate seminar is designed to provide the student with a working knowledge of the intellectual history, major theoretical orientations, and analytical techniques that have shaped the study and practice of ethnomusicology throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.  Throughout the semester we will explore the theoretical foundations of humanities-based inquiry and social theory, seeking a better understanding of how intellectual trends and discussions have been employed in the service of ethnomusicological, cultural, folkloristic, and anthropological research.

In addition to full participation in course lectures and discussions, students will be expected to complete weekly small-scale writing exercises in dialogue with assigned course readings.  While open to graduate students in all fields interested in social theory and humanities-based inquiry, this is a core course in the graduate ethnomusicology curriculum.  This section also fulfills one the core course requirements for Ph.D. minors in ethnomusicology and for School of Music cognates. 

Folk-F722 African Mobilities & Expressive Culture
Instructor: Daniel Reed
W 4:00-6:30pm
Course # 31526

Location: Classroom Office Building 102

Mobility is a concept frequently at play in scholarly discussions of African expressive culture today.  In this seminar, we will focus on various types of mobility, including movements of people such as immigrants and refugees, transnational networks formed through activities in the marketplace of African artistic practices, and the creative processes of artists themselves, which evince engagement with various kinds of discursive mobility.

In this seminar, our primary focus will be immigrant expressive cultural practice. In the past quarter century, economic inequities and related factors have led to an exponential increase in immigration of Africans to locations across the world, from China to Ukraine to the USA. Many transnationally mobile Africans use expressive cultural practices as resources for economic betterment, which can lead to yet further voluntary mobility and economic emancipation. In other cases, displaced Africans, having left their home communities, find themselves increasingly immobile, trapped in refugee camps or limiting situations of poverty in and outside the continent. Through the study of music, dance, literature, film, and other expressive cultural forms, what can we learn about the lives of contemporary African immigrants and other transnationally mobile African peoples? Transportable, adaptable and fluid, the arts serve as a means for Africans on the continent and in the diaspora to negotiate new subjectivities and forms of community; to express emotion, reflect on the past and comment on the present; and to assert agency in the face of sometimes great hardship. As such, the arts can serve as effective means to understand African immigrant experience in the world today.