This seminar will look at jazz and the literatures is has precipitated to gain an understanding of the workings of American modernism. Beginning with autobiography and moving through album liner notes, biography, poetry, and fiction we will examine the ways that race, gender, and class influence the development of what we know as jazz music. We will use jazz music to develop critical approaches to reading and understanding literary form. Ultimately, our goal is to engage the ways that American writers' interest in jazz allows them to represent American culture as a simultaneously contested and collaborative enterprise. Writers in the course will include Baraka, Murray, Ellison, Mackey, Morrison, and Bambara. While students need not be well versed in jazz history or ethnomusicology, they should have some experience reading African American literature and be prepared to discuss the vagaries of race and gender.