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Spring 2018 Graduate Course Offerings

Folk-F512 Survey of Folklore (Genre)
Instructor: Diane Goldstein
W 3:30-6:00pm
Course # 31189
Location: Classroom Office Building 272

During the late 19th and early 20th century the formulation of classification systems for folklore was considered a prerequisite to any progress in scientific research.  A coherent classification system was thought to establish features, forms and subjects as criteria for organization.  Over time paradigms concerning classification evolved to be understood more dynamically as sometimes hybrid, blurred, emic or “ethnic” and emergent.  This class will explore the structure content and features of folklore genres, the concept and problem of genre itself, and the move away from rigid classification systems to a greater understanding of folklore as practiced, performed, created, subverted and parodied.   Community and performer notions of genre will be contrasted to the (primarily Western, white, male) “analytic” genres of yesteryear. 

Folk-F517 History of Folklore
Instructor: John McDowell
T 4-6:30pm
Course # 31187
Location: Classroom Office Building 272

In this seminar, we explore some of the key moments in the evolution of folklore studies in order to acquire a feel for the conceptual foundations of our discipline. The method in every case is to appreciate the material within its own intellectual context, and to adduce its essential contribution to our understanding of folklore and how folklore arises and operates in society. The arrangement of topics is roughly chronological, which allows for a perception of the interactive qualities of intellectual history, wherein one theory arises to address another theory.

Folk-F523 Fieldwork in Ethnomusicology
Instructor: Daniel Reed
M 10am-12:30pm
Course # 2748
Location: Classroom Office Building 272

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.

Folk-F625 Bluegrass, Folk & Old-Time Lab: A Roots Music Ensemble/Seminar
Instructor: Jennie Gubner
W 6-8:30pm
Course # 14182
Location: Hoagy Carmichael Room, Morrison Hall 006

Fulfills Area and Form

Above class meets with Folk-F351

In this hands-on, experiential seminar we come together one evening a week to learn about bluegrass, folk and old-time traditions while bringing them to life in an ensemble format. By discussing biographies of artists, watching films, playing music, and song hunting within seldom-heard field recordings in the IU Archives of Traditional Music, we immerse ourselves in the lives of some of the people and places, sounds, politics, and cultural forces that have shaped narratives of roots music in the United States. To be comfortable in this course you do not need to be and advanced player but should be able to play basic chords and/or melodies on your instrument of choice, (violin, guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, dulcimer, autoharp, voice, or other stringed instrument). Most of the song learning is done by ear, so sight reading skills are not necessary. Please contact the professor for any further inquiries at No authorization required.

Folk-F635 Irish Folklore
Instructor: Ray Cashman
TR 11:15am-12:30pm
Course # 13477
Classroom Office Building 203

Fulfills Area and Form

Above class meets with Folk-F312

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-F722 Activism, Engagement, and Critical Ethnography
Instructor: David McDonald
R 12:45-3:15pm
Course # 31191

Location: Classroom Office Building 272

Fulfills Theory and Form

This graduate seminar is an in-depth investigation into the field of critical and activist ethnography.  Throughout the semester we will explore the theoretical, methodological, and applied aspects of qualitative research, seeking a better understanding of how ethnographic approaches may be mobilized for policy change, the creation of emancipatory knowledge, and the pursuit of social justice.  In this seminar we will chart out the development of critical, indigenous, and anti-oppressive methodologies in ethnographic research. In so doing we will ask: what does it mean to critique structures of injustice? How might we better understand and address positionality, difference, and dialogue in our work? What are the ethics of intervention? And how might rigorous academic inquiry serve the immediate political, material, and cultural needs of our interlocutors?  While open to graduate students in all fields interested in qualitative research methods, this course is designed to articulate with the “Public Practice” curriculum in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology.

Folk-F722 The Black Messiah: Music, Religion, & Activism
Instructor: Alisha Jones
M 3-5:30pm
Course # 13561

Location: Classroom Office Building 272

Fulfills Theory and Form

Since 2013, there has been a resurgence in aural-visual interpretations of the black messiah as represented in the cinematic revival of Langston Hughes’ gospel play The Black Nativity (2013), the controversial cable television show Black Jesus (2014), D'Angelo's highly anticipated Black Messiah (2014) album and the forthcoming feature film The Revival! Experience (2015) starring musician Mali Music. We will examine musical performances of the black messiah through the prism of race/gender/class throughout popular ideological and religious expressions from the African diaspora such as spiritualism, Nation of Islam, Rastafarianism, and Hebrew Israelites. In addition, our discussions will center on the ways in which black messianism is articulated by exploring marginalized conceptual frameworks that include womanism, chiliasm, cult of personality, and the common goals of nationalistic teachings. With attention to this vast area of scholarship, we will ask: what is the sound of black messianism? How might we undertake an anti-oppression listening of sonic worlds?

Folk-F731 Curatorship
Instructor: Jason Jackson
R 8:30-11am
Course # 31215

Location: Mathers Museum 110

Fulfills Theory and Form

What do curators do? What hands-on skills should a student acquire in order to prepare for a career working in museums or similar ethnographic archives? How do the theoretical debates within various humanities and social science disciplines connect to the practical work that curators and other museum or archives professionals pursue? Curatorship is a graduate seminar aimed at teaching fundamental skills basic to curatorial work and exploring the ways that theoretical, ethical, and methodological problems are worked out in the day-to-day work of museums of art, ethnography, archaeology, and history, as well as in the kinds of archives that serve a range of humanities and social science disciplines. The course will include hands-on activities, seminar discussion, and original collection research opportunities. While exhibitions will come up in the course of seminar meetings, the foci of the class are all of the other areas relevant to professional work in museums.

Folk-F804 Caribbean Arts & Cultures
Instructor: Rebecca Dirksen
TR 1-2:15pm
Course #31158
Location: Classroom Office Building 203

Fulfills Theory and Area

Above class meets with Folk-F316

Sustainability, green living, and climate change are heated topics in today’s intersecting arenas of science, economics, and politics. Recent years have likewise seen growing interest in ecomusicologies and spiritual ecologies. The former tries to get at the connections between sound, music, and the environment, while the latter describes the mixings of religious beliefs, metaphysics, and spiritualities with ecologies, environmentalisms, and scientific perspectives on the natural world. Frequently, ecomusicologies overlap with spiritual ecologies, as observed in a number of musically informed Afro-Caribbean and New World Indigenous belief systems. This course will consider the collisions of cultures, ideologies, histories, sounds, and daily experiences that have become part of conversations about humanity’s uses of the environment. Our discussions will touch on geophysical history and politics, colonialist legacies, varied effects of globalization, and models of consumption, neo-capitalism, and neoliberalism that have all made perceptible marks on the Earth. This foundation will support our evaluation of attempts to change the world’s trajectory for the better, ranging from the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to local, community-led responses that are often grounded in sound, music, and art. Our study media will be expressive culture, including literature, film, visual arts, dance, traditional healing practices, and, especially, music. Our sites of exploration may include Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago, as well as Taíno and Maroon communities from across the Antilles.

Folk-F804 Mongolian Folklore
Instructor: Gyorgy Kara
TR 1-2:15pm
Course #32636
Location: LI 851

Fulfills Area

Above class meets with CEUS-R369

The course gives an overview of the rich heritage of the oral art of word, also called oral literature, of the Mongolic peoples: the Oirats and Kalmyks, the Buryats, the Mongols of Mongolia and China. Discussed will be their lyric and narrative genres, the forms of versification, the keepers of oral tradition, the relation of this oral art to written literature and other forms of art as music and dance, its relation to religion and politics, its place and role in the traditional and the modern society. No knowledge of a Mongolic language is required.

Folk-F804 Shamanism & Folk Religion
Instructor: Gyorgy Kara
MW 1-2:15pm
Course #32635
Location: LI 851

Fulfills Theory

Above class meets with CEUS-R364

In the last eight centuries the Mongols embraced several dogmatic religions: Buddhism, Christianity and Islam. From among these three world-religions Buddhism in its Tibetan form proved to be the dominant system for the majority of the Mongolic-speaking peoples. In spite of suppression and persecution, their primitive system of beliefs and practices called shamanism never ceased to exist, not even under the rule of the official atheist ideology of the near past, but in its struggle with Buddhism it has been transformed. It is a part of a highly syncretistic folk religion which is reviving after the fall of the totalitarian rule.

What is shamanism, what is the role of the shaman in Mongol communities? Is shamanism a religion? What is its relation to the whole of popular beliefs and cults? Who becomes a shaman? What are the skills, tools and techniques he or she learns and uses? These and more questions will be discussed in the course. No knowledge of a Mongolic language is required.