Jazz Studies in the 21st Century: Reading the Literatures of Jazz
The level of growth the field of Jazz Studies over the last decade has led to a profound increase in its visibility and its greater reach into other disciplines. Hence, literary critics, musicologists, art historians, historiographers, sociologists, and anthropologists have all directed their scholarly gaze at jazz music and the communities in which it is produced. We will begin by exploring some of the most important debates in Jazz Studies not only to see how race, gender, and class impact the jazz subculture in the U.S. but also to understand how jazz has often been beset by the politics of both respectability and representation. From there we will seek to ascertain the role various forms of literary and cultural production (e.g. autobiography, biography, poetry, drama, and, fiction) play in how jazz music is perceived. We will devote substantial attention to jazz and cinema, most notably, Ken Burns' landmark documentary, Jazz, but also films like Bird, Round Midnight, Mo' Better Blues, and Paris Blues. An intimate knowledge of jazz or jazz history is not a prerequisite, but students should be prepared to move across disciplinary boundaries and to expand their working knowledge of the major contributors to jazz music and its attending scholarship.