AMCULT 405 - Topics in American Culture
Section: 002 American Blues Music
Term: FA 2012
Subject: American Culture (AMCULT)
Department: LSA American Culture
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May be elected twice for credit. May be elected more than once in the same term.
Primary Instructor:

The blues, as discussed in this upper-level seminar, are seen not just as a musical style, but rather as a technique to nurture and sustain moral and cultural alternatives to dominant, white values. In many ways the blues musicians of the 1920s and 1930s (the principal focus of this course) can be viewed as preservers and purveyors of African Americans' own cultural knowledge, their own theories of social change, and their own theories of class. It is the intent of this course to provide a dialogue in which we will uncover how blues musicians manifested these cultural modes and processes within their music, for embedded in both their musical works and life stories is a process of social and ideological recreation.

The first half of the course will be dedicated to an overall survey of the history of the Blues to provide an historical base upon which to build our theoretical models. The second half of the course will be an in-depth study of Robert Johnson. Why is he considered the greatest bluesman? What does he say about myth in America? What does he say about our own relationship with our past and race? What do the various interpretations of his life reveal about us as storytellers and about our increasingly diverse culture(s)? How does myth become "contested space"? And how did he serve as perhaps the first post-modern purveyor of intersectional themes in his blues?

Course Requirements:

Assignments will include weekly journals, three reaction papers, and a final presentation.

Intended Audience:

Juniors and seniors, most likely pursuing a concentration or minor in one of the American Culture programs.

Class Format:

3 hours per week in lecture/discussion format.

AMCULT 405 - Topics in American Culture
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
TuTh 8:30AM - 10:00AM
002 (SEM)
TuTh 11:30AM - 1:00PM
003 (SEM)
M 3:00PM - 6:00PM
Note: Section 003 is scheduled in Room 1022 TAB (Thayer Academic Building)
004 (SEM)
TuTh 11:30AM - 1:00PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

ISBN: 9780252076763
Long lost blues : popular blues in America, 1850-1920, Author: Peter C. Muir., Publisher: University of Illinois Press 2010
ISBN: 9780393062588
Delta blues : the life and times of the Mississippi Masters who revolutionized American music, Author: Ted Gioia ; artwork by Neil Harpe., Publisher: W.W. Norton 1st ed. 2008
ISBN: 0060524278
Escaping the Delta : Robert Johnson and the invention of the blues, Author: Elijah Wald., Publisher: HarperCollins 1st Amista 2005
Other Textbook Editions OK.
Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

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