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Trading Fours: Literatures of Jazz

ENGL 080.401
instructor(s):
TR 10:30-12

Jazz is most often understood as a musical genre, but this team-taught course will commence from the assumption that jazz is, first and foremost, a conversation. The substance of that conversation can vary of course, ranging across history, politics, romance, and what it means to be (and seek to remain) human. Students will become involved in this conversation, first by learning that jazz originates out of local circumstance, which means that we will pay close attention to Philadelphia as an important chapter in the jazz story. From there, we will proceed by utilizing readings from numerous forms of cultural meditation- fiction, poetry, autobiography, album liner notes, reviews, film, and oral narrative-as a prelude to making our own contributions to the jazz conversation. To that end, students will undertake to write reviews, make their own contributions to the jazz conversation. To that end, students will undertake to write reviews, make their own films or photographs, participate in live jam sessions, create and perform poems, all of which will occur as they interact with Philadelphia high school and middle school students and members of the jazz communities of Philadelphia, Boston, and New York. Writers and musicians in the course will include Ishmael Reed, Louis Armstrong, Toni Morrison, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, August Wilson, John Coltrane, and Wynton Marsalis.

 *This is an ABCS course which will involve students in community-service-and problem-centered learning