Fall 2021

Looking at the World Through Jazz-Colored Lenses

Moodle site: Course


Darryl Harper (Section 01)


When you think of Jazz, what comes to mind? Perhaps a romantic, elegant, candle-lit dinner? A goatee-sporting fashion plate? Individual freedom to create? Something old that your parents listen to? Jazz emerged in New Orleans in the early twentieth century and quickly spread throughout the world, becoming, at certain points in its history, wildly popular, and at others, decidedly esoteric. Jazz has been called, variously: savage, modern, instinctive, sophisticated, revolutionary, a rare national treasure, a secret sonic weapon, noise, America's classical music, and the most powerful evolutionary force in modern music. It has been instrumental in political movements (for instance, the export of jazz ensembles to the Soviet Union during the Cold War); in campaigns both to sanction human rights (Jazz in the Civil Rights Movement), and suppress them (its concerted and systematic effort to exclude women); and it has been used at once to amplify capitalism (the market-savvy Smooth Jazz industry) and to critique it (the efflorescence of independent musician collectives, such as the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians). Using audio recordings, newspaper articles, television programs, and other archival materials, along with recent and past scholarship, we will examine the sounds, key figures, and practices that make up this music to consider what this enduring yet elusive style has to tell us about ourselves.

Fall semester. Professor Harper.


Attention to Issues of Class, Attention to Issues of Gender and Sexuality, Attention to Issues of Race, Attention to Issues of Social Justice, Attention to Research, Attention to Speaking, Attention to Writing, Fine Arts for Non-majors


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021