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History of Jazz in American Culture
MUSC 272
Fall 2022
Section: 01  
Crosslisting: AMST 283, AFAM 272

This course will provide students with a broad-based literacy in the history of jazz while examining its significance and impact within American culture. As a musical style, jazz has been a staging ground for working out some of the most defining issues and aspects of American culture, including the dynamics of race relations, the articulation of gender roles and class distinctions, artistic expressions of freedom and democracy, the creative possibilities of the encounter of European- and African-based cultures on American soil, assimilation versus appropriation, and an extraordinarily influential aesthetic of cool. Jazz was the dance and listening music of choice for most Americans from the 1920s through the '50s, until it was displaced and pushed to the margins by rock and soul in the 1960s. But it has remained an inspiration for diverse artists in rock and rap up to the present day, including Kendrick Lamar's jazz-drenched "To Pimp A Butterfly" and Janelle Monae's 21st-century Afrofuturism deeply indebted to Sun Ra.

We will explore the early 20th-century origins of jazz in New Orleans, its rise as America's popular dance music in the 1920s and '30s, a shift to a more concert art-oriented form in the 1940s and '50s (representing the epitome of cool and hipness), avant-garde expressions of the 1960s (representing a new kind of universal spirituality), its move into rock and the growth of artist-based collectives of the 1970s, and its emergence in hip-hop samples in the 1990s. We will learn about major artists and their classic recordings, including Billie Holiday, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis, among many others, as well as new directions from recent generations (bringing in guest music department faculty). We will immerse ourselves in a combination of listening to recordings, viewing videos, reading, discussion, and in-class performances. Throughout the semester we will pursue the parallel goals of using jazz history to understand American history and vice versa. This is a jazz history course with a difference, able to accommodate curious newcomers as well as aficionados and those interested in social and cultural dynamics as well as the musical materials.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA MUSC
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (MUSC)
Past Enrollment Probability: Less than 50%

Last Updated on MAY-21-2024
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