Current Folklore Course Offerings

Spring 2020

Undergraduate Courses | Undergraduate/Graduate Courses | Graduate Courses | Affiliated Courses

Undergraduate Courses

 

INTRODUCTION TO FOLKLORE 
English 2270/Comparative Studies 2350 | #17367/18705
Martha Sims | TuThu 12:45PM-2:05PM | Ramseyer Hall 115

Folklore is the culture that people make for themselves. Folklore is cherished by families or danced on the streets by unruly young people. The forms of folklore circulate from person to person and group to group, adapting to every change of situation; they lend themselves to a wide array of social purposes. We will look at a range of cultural practices from both US and international settings, including oral/verbal, customary, and material genres of folklore. Students who take this course will learn how to put their knowledge of expressive culture to real-world use, such as listening for and attending to cultural differences in educational and public sector contexts. We will also learn how to conduct an ethnographic project—from collecting data, interviewing, and transcribing, to analyzing and archiving the material. Potential topics include: dorm life rituals, jokes and pranks, traditions of rural Ohio (farming, forestry, hunting), yard art, or local festivals and foodways. GE Culture and Ideas. Folklore Minor.

 

TOLKIEN'S MONSTERS
ENGLISH 3372 | #25849
Merrill Kaplan | TuTh 9:35AM-10:55AM | Journalism Building 270

Tolkien's bestiary of wights, wargs, balrogs, and nazguls is half the fun of his books. Add the "races" of elves, dwarves, hobbits, orcs, and men and there is a lot to talk about. What is a monster and what do monsters mean? What are the relationships between Tolkien's monsters and the elves, dragons, and trolls of folklore and medieval epic? How have Tolkien's ideas about race affected subsequent fantasy literature and games? In looking at monsters, we'll examine the boundaries of the human and explore the violent language of dehumanization. We'll hew to the books, not the movies, and readings will include the Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Tolkien`s essay "The Monsters and the Critics," modern theoretical works on monstrosity and about race, and comparative texts from folklore and medieval literature.

 

UNDERGRADUATE ARCHIVAL INTERNSHIP
Comparative Studies 4191 | #34488 (1-3 units depending on student schedule)
Cassie Patterson | TBD

This archival internship pairs undergraduate students with community partners in Delaware County and Scioto County to continue community fieldworking and digitizing projects being carried out by the Folklore Archives at the Center for Folklore Studies. Interested students should email the Director of the Folklore Archives, Dr. Cassie Patterson, at patterson.493@osu.edu for more information about individual projects. 


 

Undergraduate/Graduate Courses

 

COMPARATIVE STUDIES FIELD SCHOOL
English/CompStd 5189 | #
27576/27577/27707/27708
Jasper Waugh-Quasebarth, Katherine Borland | Mo 10:00AM-12:45PM | Hagerty Hall 251

The Ohio Field Schools Course provides an introduction to ethnographic field methods (participant-observation, writing field notes, photographic documentation, audio-interviewing), archiving, and the public exhibition of research for both undergraduates and graduate students. Students will contribute to a team-based, immersive research project designed to document the ways that diverse communities express and preserve a sense of place in the face of economic, environmental and cultural change. The semester-long, experientially-based course will consist of three parts:

  • Introduction to fieldwork (on OSU campus in Columbus)
  • A one-week field experience in Scioto County during spring break (where students will reside together on-site)
  • Accessioning, digital gallery preparation, and reflection (on OSU campus in Columbus)

Thus, throughout the semester, students will practice all of the skills necessary to construct a permanent record of local expressive culture that will be accessible to future researchers and community members. Participation in all parts of the course is required.

 

GROUP STUDIES: BE THE STREET
Theatre 5899/6194 | # 34568

Moriah Flagler | Fr 9:00AM-12:00PM | Drake Center 2038

This community-engaged devising course actively examines theories, practices, pedagogies, and politics associated with creating performance by, with, and for communities outside of formal theatre settings. Students in this course will explore big questions in the field of applied drama & theatre and actively put that theory into practice by facilitating a devising process with community participants in the Hilltop area. This course requires around 1.5 hours of facilitation time in the Hilltop per week and culminates in a public sharing of work in April. Students must have access to reliable transportation or discuss this with the instructor.

Throughout the course students will learn devising techniques, plan/workshop sessions, and facilitate a devising process with one of our partnerships in the Hilltop. The communities we engage with are multilingual and our work includes many opportunities for speaking Spanish. Students interested in enrolling should contact the instructor, Moriah Flagler (.4) by email.


 

Graduate Courses

 

DISABILITY STUDIES SEMINAR: STIGMA, COMPETENCY, AND NORMALCY
English 7891 | #33739
Amy Shuman | Tu 1:50PM-4:50PM | Dulles Hall 016

One might say that stigma marks the difference between disability and illness, between normalcy and its opposites, and between competency and incompetency.  Stigma is a social marking (for the Greeks a literal mark on the body), that assigns negative, discrediting, value to particular personal attributes.  The study of disability shares many foundational concepts with studies race, class, gender, and sexuality; the Disability Rights Movement grew out of the Civil Rights Movement and shares many of the premises developed in feminist research.  Although disability itself is a pervasive dimension of social life, the study of disability is often overlooked in studies of race, class, and gender.  Our focus on stigma, competency, and normalcy will address some of these overlooked dimensions and consider the many intersections, for example the role of disclosure as a choice/strategy/requirement.  Our methodological approach combines research in folklore/ethnography/linguistic anthropology with narrative research and feminist research. Readings include excerpts from Goffman’s Stigma,The Disability Studies Reader, Ato Quayson’s Aesthetic Nervousness, Michael Berubé’s Secret Life of Stories, Diagnosing Folklore, and others. The course requires a final project.


 

Courses by Affiliated Faculty

 

THE MIDDLE EAST CLOSE-UP: PEOPLE, CULTURES, SOCIETIES
NELC/Anthropology 2241 | #28274
Danielle Schoon | TuTh 11:10AM-12:30PM

This course provides an ethnographic overview of the "Culture" and cultures of the contemporary Middle East. It is designed to increase student knowledge and awareness about the Middle East in regard to its cultural, social, political and religious institutions. The history of the region is examined as background to developing a more thorough understanding of the contemporary Middle East as represented by its villages, towns, and cities. This is also a course in the comparative study of culture, addressing essential questions in the study of societies located within a single regional context which are informed by different cultural traditions. We'll get acquainted with the region through readings, films, and other course materials that provide fascinating windows into the Middle East " close-up".

 

SCIENCE FICTION AND/OR FANTASY
English 3372 | #25815
Jordan Lovejoy | TuTh 12:45PM-2:05PM | Caldwell Lab 177

Introduction to the tradition and practice of speculative writing. Provides students the opportunity to examine and compare works of science fiction and/or fantasy.
Prereq: 1110.01 (110.01) or equiv. Not open to students with credit for 372. GE lit course.

 

ECO-LITERATURE IN CHINA
Chinese 4407 | #33533
Mark Bender | WeFr 2:20-3:40PM | University Hall 028

This course will look at “Eco-literature” or “literature of the environment” in China, contextualized within global and Intra-Asia perspectives.The study of eco-literature is a relatively new field, but has deep roots in the history of literature and folklore. We will explore songs, epics, stories, poems, novels, indie videos from various local cultures in China and border areas.

 

THE NEOLIBERAL CITY (Undergrad/Grad)
GEOGRAPHY 5502 | #32541/32542
Nancy Ettlinger | TuTh 12:45-2:05PM | Denney Hall 238

This course examines the neoliberal governance of cities and associated problems and prospects for change from the vantage point of social in/justice. The course begins with an introduction to different critical approaches to neoliberalism, and then focuses on case studies regarding selected topics drawing from the different approaches. Readings cover cities around the world; class discussion includes a comparative, context-sensitive assessment of neoliberal urban governance. The course includes a research paper that students can use towards their research programs (senior or MA thesis, dissertation, publication). Contact Nancy Ettlinger, ettlinger.1@osu.edu, Derby 1144 for more details, previous syllabus, questions.

 

BODIES ON THE LINE
Dance 7408 | #32445
Harmony Bench | Mo 2:15PM-5:00PM | Sullivant Hall 225

This interdisciplinary graduate seminar begins with the proposition that all politics are a politics of the body. We will therefore set out to examine how (human) bodies are framed and deployed for political functions, how they circulate or are constrained, and how people choose to put their bodies on the line as testimony of their political investments. We will draw from multiple fields of inquiry, including performance studies, critical cultural theory, political philosophy, as well as theater and dance performance. We will further consider how political and performing bodies negotiate identities, display themselves or are displayed for others, protest social inequality, and experience pain--even death. We will bring a choreographic lens to bear on each of these topics, along with a set of of analytical tools attuned to the perils of having one's body on the line. 

 

ACTIVISM IN MULTIETHNIC LONDON - REFUGEES IN CRISIS (May 2020)
English 4554.02 | #33808
Amy Shuman & Wendy Hesford

With the city of London as its focus, this education abroad course (ENGLISH 4554: English Studies and Global Human Rights) will explore global migration in the context of the current crisis around refugees. Framed around five key terms – migration, suspicion, crisis, exhaustion and fusion — we will study cultural representations (art, literature, film, theatre, exhibitions and photography) with an emphasis on London’s rich history of immigration and present emphases on national security. We will study national and international policies and debates and meet with London organizations that work with refugees.

 

Coming in Summer 2020: 

CULTURES OF WASTE AND RECYCLING
CompStd 5957
Dorothy Noyes | TBD

This course explores the notion of the residual: what is left over, useless, unclassifiable. We will explore the customary management of communal resources, both human and material, in scarce-resource societies. We’ll consider processes of symbolic classification through which phenomena can be labelled as out of place or out of phase. We'll examine the creation of waste (and its converse, deprivation) with the codification of custom in modernity, and look at strategies by which waste is recuperated as a matter of necessity, aesthetics, or ideology. We'll look at how
different kinds of leftover move in and out of systems of value: for example, the labelling of things as "junk" or "antiques," people as "trash," or ideas as "folklore." Finally, we'll think about the status of residues in social and cultural theory. 



 

 

Fall 2019

Undergraduate Courses | Upper-level Undergraduate Courses | Graduate Courses | Affiliated Courses

Undergraduate Courses

 

INTRODUCTION TO FOLKLORE
English 2270/Comparative Studies 2350 | #26303/26302
Amy Shuman | TuThu 11:10AM-12:30PM

Folklore is the culture that people make for themselves. Folklore is cherished by families or danced on the streets by unruly young people. The forms of folklore circulate from person to person and group to group, adapting to every change of situation; they lend themselves to a wide array of social purposes. We will look at a range of cultural practices from both US and international settings, including oral/verbal, customary, and material genres of folklore. For example, we will consider how domestic art reveals aspects of gendered work, or how contemporary legends about food, illness, or public disasters both reflect and constitute public opinion of ethnic, racial, or sexual minority groups. Students who take this course will learn how to put their knowledge of expressive culture to real-world use, such as listening for and attending to cultural differences in educational and public sector contexts. We will also learn how to conduct an ethnographic project—from collecting data, interviewing, and transcribing, to analyzing and archiving the material. Your final project will include original ethnographic research on a group, a practice, a place or a genre of expressive culture that you have access to face-to-face. Potential topics include: dorm life rituals, jokes and pranks, traditions of rural Ohio (farming, forestry, hunting), yard art, or local festivals and foodways. GE Culture and Ideas

INTRODUCTION TO FOLKLORE (Honors)
English 2270H/Comparative Studies 2350H
Borland | WF 2:20-3:40PM | Jennings Hall 041

This class explores forms of traditional, vernacular culture—including verbal, customary, and material culture—shared by men and women, old and young people, from diverse regional, ethnic, religious, and occupational groups. We will consider various interpretive, approaches to the study of folklore, and we will investigate the history of folklore studies more broadly. Recurring central issues will include the dynamics of tradition, the nature of creativity, and the construction of group identities. Honors students will have the opportunity document their own folklore and to contribute to a team project of collecting, analyzing and archiving local character stories from family, friends, hometown, campus or other communities of interest. GE Cultures and Ideas. Honors version. 

THE U.S. FOLK EXPERIENCE
English 2367.05H | #19036
Amy Shuman | MoWeFr 11:10PM-12:30PM

Concepts of American folklore & ethnography; folk groups, tradition, & fieldwork methodology; how these contribute to the development of critical reading, writing, & thinking skills. Only one 2367 decimal subdivision may be taken for credit.

NORSE MYTHOLOGY AND MEDIEVAL CULTURE
Scandinavian 3350 | #28834
Merrill Kaplan | TuTh 9:35AM-10:55AM

What do we know about Thor and Odin, and how do we know it? This course examines the myths of the Old Norse gods and the sources in which those myths are recorded. Students will gain insight into the world view and beliefs of the pagan North by reading (in English translation) the most important textual sources on Scandinavia's pre-Christian mythology. Place-name, archaeological, and other evidence will also be discussed. Students intrigued by the Viking Age, medieval Northern Europe, or the interpretation of myth will find much of interest. Counts towards the Scandinavian minor.

APPROACHES TO COMPARATIVE STUDIES
Comparative Studies 3990 | #17846
Katherine Borland | WeFr 11:10AM-12:30PM

Introduces comparative studies majors to theoretical tools, methods of investigation, and key concepts in comparative studies research and scholarship.

UNDERGRADUATE ARCHIVAL INTERNSHIP
Comparative Studies 4191 | #35435 (1-3 units depending on student schedule)
Cassie Patterson | TBD

This archival internship pairs undergraduate students with community partners in Delaware County and Scioto County to continue community fieldworking and digitizing projects being carried out by the Folklore Archives at the Center for Folklore Studies. Students will review the work accomplished by students last year, meet with community partners to determine semester goals (in Delaware or Scioto County), digitize community partner materials (on site in Columbus), and return digital materials to community partners (in Delaware or Scioto County). Mileage reimbursements will be available for associated travel. Interested students should email the Director of the Folklore Archives, Dr. Cassie Patterson, at patterson.493@osu.edu for more information about individual projects. 


 

Upper-Level Undergraduate Courses

 

INTRODUCTION TO NARRATIVE AND NARRATIVE THEORY
English 4559 | #28134
Shuman | WeFr 2:20PM-3:40PM

"Narrative" is a current buzz-word and a catch-all term -everything is narrative nowadays!  However, it is also one of the principle means of organizing experience in everyday life and conversation, popular culture and literary works. This course introduces students to the basic concepts and tools of "classical" narrative theory and analysis, in four general areas: the underlying structure of story; the reordering of story-events in the plot; the production of a story-world (narrative time and space); and the representation of selves (narrators, speakers, perceivers, minds). We will study a selection of classic essays in narrative theory, and we will read and analyze a variety of mainly literary narrative - fairy-tales, short-stories, novels, one graphic narrative and at least one film. We will also survey some of the developments in "post-classical" narrative theory, including rhetorical narrative theory, feminist and queer narratology, and cognitive narrative theory.

CULTURAL DIPLOMACY
International Studies 4800 | #34461
Dorothy Noyes | WeFr 12:45PM-2:05PM

Cultural diplomacy (CD) is the  exchange of performances and ideas across state borders with the intention of building political influence. This course takes a humanities approach, working through case studies as well as students' own intercultural experiences. By examining primary and secondary sources from a range of positions, students will learn to interpret the complex effects, at multiple levels, of intercultural initiatives.

We start by reminding ourselves that cultural diplomacy operates within a larger universe of cultural flows and transfers: mass and social media, popular culture and the arts, immigration, tourism, education, religion, commerce, social movements, etc. We also consider traditional state diplomacy as a kind of cultural performance with its own body of symbols and customs.

The first major unit of the course examines the state-sponsored CD of the twentieth century, culminating in Cold War ideological competition. Then we see the rise of alternative models of connection, emerging from both postcolonial and domestic resistance. In this context, nonstate actors and grassroots groups began to conduct their own forms of CD. The last unit looks at the recent revitalization and reshapings of both state and non-state CD in response to consumer capitalism, the globalization of public opinion, new media, and geopolitical shifts. We'll conclude with some reflections on the value and limitations of the culture concept in international affairs.

PERFORMANCE TRADITIONS OF CHINA
Chinese 5400 | #28774
Mark Bender | We 2:15PM-5:00PM

Introduction to the panorama of oral and orally-connected performance traditions of China; explores local traditions of professional storytelling, epic singing, folksongs, and local drama.

DISABILITY STUDIES INTERNSHIP
Disability Studies 5191
Amy Shuman | TBA

Offers undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to work with disability-related organizations on or off campus. This course is graded S/U.


Graduate Courses

 

INTRO TO GRADUATE STUDY IN FOLKLORE I: THE PHILOLOGY OF THE VERNACULAR
English 6751.01
Merrill Kaplan | Tu 1:50PM-4:50PM

How do we interpret traditional forms and the cultural practices that create them? How can we read cultural expression as text within the context of its performance? How can we cope with the multiple existence and variation of our object of study? This course provides a lightning introduction to folklore and the intellectual wellsprings of folkloristics. It then moves on through several canonical genres of traditional expression such as festival, fairytale, legend, folk belief, jokes, and costume with an eye towards developing the tools necessary for their interpretation. Students will compile an annotated bibliography on a single genre and write an analysis of an example of that genre.
 


 

Courses by Affiliated Faculty

 

VAMPIRES, MONSTROSITY, AND EVIL: FROM SLAVIC MYTH TO TWILIGHT
Russian 2230 | #33289
Daniel Collins | WeFr 9:35AM-10:55AM

Changing approaches to evil as embodied in vampires in East European folk belief & European & American pop culture; function of vampire & monster tales in cultural context, including peasant world & West from Enlightenment to now. Taught in English.

BEYOND HAREMS AND BELLY DANCERS: TURKISH CULTURE
Turkish 2241 | #33560
Danielle Schoon | WeFr 12:45PM-2:05PM

This is a course exposing students to a diverse and living culture with a great and ancient heritage. Contributions of the local and international Turkish communities, in the form of performances arranged for the class, films, slides, and recordings, will form the in-class experience. Through these means and through assigned readings and discussion, students will comprehend the span and depth of the Turkish contribution to human values, and research one aspect of that culture in some detail according to his or her personal interests. By the end of the course students will have an enlightened understanding of the Turkish role in shaping human history and contemporary events.

RUSSIAN FAIRY TALES AND FOLKLORE
Russian 2345 | #33289
Daniel Collins | WeFr 12:45PM-2:05PM

Examines four categories of texts, both verbal and visual: (1) a survey of Russian demonology; (2) a large selection of the best-known Russian fairy tales; (3) scholarly articles analyzing the differences between folklore and literature; and (4) visual materials (film, paintings, graphics, and handicrafts) and music inspired by Russian fairy tales. Taught in English. GE cultures and ideas and diversity global studies course.

U.S. LATINO IDENTITY
Comparative Studies 2367.08 | #26049
Miranda Martinez | TuTh 2:20PM-3:40PM

Latino/a identity in the U.S.; emphasis on Latino/a cultural history and expression and on role of race, class, gender, and sexuality in identity construction.

KOREAN LITERATURE IN TRANSLATION
Korean 2451 | #26903
Chan Park | TuTh 3:55PM-5:15PM

A close examination of masterpieces in Korean literature across genres for students with no previous academic training in Korean literature. All readings and discussions in English; college-level English reading and writing required.

MAGIC AND WITCHCRAFT IN THE MIDDLE AGES AND RENAISSANCE
Medieval and Renaissance 2666 | #29002
Sarah Johnston | MoWeFr 10:20AM-11:15AM

A study of the history of witchcraft and magic from 400 to 1700 C.E. within sociological, religious and intellectual contexts.

MAGIC AND THE ANCIENT WORLD
Classics 3404 | #33463
Sarah Johnston | MoWeFr 1:50PM-2:45PM

An introduction to the theory and practice of magic in the ancient Mediterranean, how people viewed it, and how it survived in later epochs.

INTRODUCTION TO ISLAM
Near Eastern Languages and Cultures 3501 | #33807
Danielle Schoon | WeFr 9:35AM-10:55AM

Examination of Islam as a world religion, enabling an understanding of its major tenets and beliefs as they are envisioned by insiders and outsiders.

THE MIDDLE EAST IN THE MEDIA
Near Eastern Languages and Cultures 3204 | #29475
Ehsan Estiri | TuThr 5:30-6:50PM

Examination of contemporary Middle Eastern cultures through critical evaluation of the media which inform our understanding of international politics. 

THE CITY AND CULTURE
Comparative Studies 3661 | #33357
Miranda Martinez | TuTh 12:45PM-2:05PM

Introduction to the comparative and cross-cultural study of cities, urban culture, and urbanism.

ORGANIZATIONAL LEADERSHIP IN THE NONPROFIT ARTS
Art Education 5671 | #27669/27669
Dana Kletchka | MoWe 12:45PM-2:05PM

Students will be assisted in enhancing their knowledge and ability to take responsible leadership roles in non-profit arts organizations and as a major constituent of public arts agencies.

SPANISH IN OHIO: AN EXPERIENTIAL COURSE
Spanish 5689S | #33671
Elena Foulis | WeFr 2:30PM-5:15PM

Interaction with Hispanic communities in Ohio; intensive & extensive practice with Spanish as spoken by native speakers from the U.S. & abroad. Not open to native speakers of Spanish unless their secondary education was completed in the United States.

TOPICS IN COMPARATIVE STUDIES - BE THE STREET: COMMUNITY-ENGAGED ARTS PARTNERSHIPS
Comparative Studies 5691 
Moriah Flagler | M 2:15-5:00PM | Hagerty Hall 359

In association with the “Be the Street” community-engaged performance project, this graduate level special topics course offers students hands on experience building and sustaining community arts partnerships while actively examining theories, practices, pedagogies, and politics associated with creative community development. Students will practice ethnography by facilitating story circles, conducting interviews, and engaging with community leaders in the Hilltop area of Columbus. There will be opportunities for writing, both for our website and for academic audiences (if students are interested). This course requires time for fieldwork in the Hilltop outside of class. Students must have access to reliable transportation or discuss this with the instructor.

Students interested in enrolling should contact the instructor, Moriah Flagler, with any questions:flagler.4@osu.edu.

SPANISH SOCIOLINGUISTICS
Spanish 7380
Anna Babel | TBA

This course acts as an introduction to the subdiscipline of sociolinguistics, investigating its development as a field of study as well as its ties to linguistic anthropology.  We focus on the relationship of micro-level linguistic variation to social and cultural patterns, linking sociolinguistic variation to larger-scale political and economic forces.  There is a particular focus on research in and studies from the Spanish-speaking world.  Participants in the class are expected to take a critical approach to the theories we discuss, actively evaluating their strengths, weaknesses, and appropriate applications.  Specific topics may include foundations of sociolinguistics and related disciplines; approaches to the speech community; theories of context, such as register, genre, and style; theories of practice; discourse and conversation analysis; performance, voice, and footing; language ideologies and attitudes; semiotics and indexicality; varieties and codes, including multilingualism and language contact; and theories of identity.  Time permitting, we may explore other topics that are relevant to students in the class.  This class is intended to be flexible and is open to modification depending on the needs and interests of the participants.

BRITISH LITERATURE OF THE ROMANTIC PERIOD
English 6746.01 (#34753) and English 6746.02 (#34791)
Clare Simmons | TWe 9:10AM-12:10PM

This course serves as a graduate-level introduction to British literature of the Romantic period and to the types of critical strategies current in scholarship today. A loose theme for the course is “Ballads, Traditions, Superstitions.” We will examine the emergent interest in ballads and tales passed down by oral tradition and the ballad’s influence on Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads and works by other poets of the time, including Mary Robinson, Felicia Hemans, Blake, Keats, Percy Shelley and others, paying attention to both cultural and historical context and variations on poetic form. We will also consider how this emphasis on “romance”—the historically distant, the supernatural, the fantastic, and the larger-than-life—influenced the Romantic-era novel , focusing on John Polidori’s Vampyre, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Matthew Lewis’s Monk, and Walter Scott’s Bride of Lammermoor. The course should be of relevance to anyone working in nineteenth-century literature, both British and American; folklorists; students of the Gothic; and those interested in poetry and poetic theory. The main text will be The Longman Anthology of British Literature, 5th edition. Assignments will include an in-class presentation and for those in 6746.01 a final project in the form of a seminar paper or negotiated equivalent.

AFRICAN MUSIC: IDEAS, FORMS, AND TRAJECTORIES
Music 4555.08/7789 | #33751 
Ryan Skinner | WeFr 2:20PM-3:40PM

What is African music? What is African music? In a continent as large and varied as Africa (with upwards of two thousand languages spoken by as many ethno-linguistic communities), discussions of an overarching “African” musical aesthetics appear, at best, overly ambitious and, at worst, grossly reductive. Yet, scholars, critics, and musicians frequently return to the category of “Africa” as an ideological construct, a formal and stylistic qualifier, and a lived reality. African “music” is no less difficult to define. With a continental range of musical culture including dance, recitation, storytelling, song, and instrumental performance, among other expressive forms, what qualifies as “music” in Africa is an open and often debated question. This course takes the heterogeneity of the continent’s peoples and their music as an empirical point of departure.  It acknowledges, however, that this diversity of musical practices has long been, and continues to be “Africanized” as an object of academic study, political debate, and cultural heritage; and it recognizes that African “music” (broadly defined) continues to be an important means of identity construction, in and out of Africa, as well as a discursive object of social and cultural difference –as an icon of African distinctiveness and difference. This course seeks to, first, introduce students to a broad range of arguments about African identity and music. To this end, we will take several weeks to explore the disciplinary history of Africanist ethnomusicology, from its comparativist beginnings to its ethnographic present. Second, this course will familiarize students with a select sampling of the continent’s diverse musical traditions, as presented in historical, anthropological, and musicological texts and related audio-visual media.  Finally, third, the class will interrogate the politicization and globalization of “African music.” In doing so, we will consider the “worlding” (or de-territorialization) of  African music in contexts  of postcolonial nationalism, Cold War statism, transnational migration, diaspora formation, international culture industries, and the infrastructures of new media and technology.

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