AMST 314 Groovin' the Written Word: The Role of Music in African American Literature

Last offered Fall 2013

Cross Listed as COMP321, ENGL314, AFR314
In an interview with Paul Gilroy, Toni Morrison once said, "Music provides a key to the whole medley of Afro-American artistic practices." Morrison is not the only one who believes that music speaks to numerous aspects of the African American experience. From Sterling Brown and Zora Neale Hurston to John Edgar Wideman and Suzan Lori-Parks, many African American authors have drawn on music to take political stands, shape creative aesthetics, and articulate black identity. In this course, students will explore the work of these authors and more, investigating music's ability to represent and critique African American culture in their literature. Texts will cover a range of literary forms including poetry, plays, short stories and novels alongside theoretical and critical essays. Students will discuss such key issues as assimilation into mainstream culture, authenticity claims on black music, and music used as a tool for protest. Additionally, class assignments will include musical examples in spirituals/gospel, blues, jazz, and rock/rhythm and blues. While this class requires students to practice in-depth literary and performance analysis skills, students are not required to have technical musical knowledge.
Class Format: lecture/discussion
Requirements/Evaluation: evaluation will be based upon class participation, short weekly reading responses and/or listening assignments, one 6- to 8-page paper comparing two works, final group project (possibly producing a radio show/ podcast)
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Prerequisites: none; open to all
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Distribution Notes: meets Division 2 requirement if registration is under AFR or AMST; meets division 1 requirement if registration is under COMP or ENGL
Divisional Attributes: Division II
Other Attributes: AFR Core Electives,AMST Arts in Context Electives,AMST Comp Studies in Race, Ethnicity, Diaspora
Enrollment Limit: 20
Expected Enrollment: 15
Class Number: 1119
AMST 314 LEC Music in Afro American Lit Division 2: Social Studies Rashida K. Braggs
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