Music and Memory

In the final unit of the course, we’ll revisit some scholarship on the situation of African Americans in the decades just before and immediately following the Civil War; we’ll then read about the music of Storyville and the rise of careers in Jazz as that music became a part of mass-culture throughout the U. S in the first half of the twentieth century; we'll then consider the way the rhythm'n'blues community here changed during the late 1960s and early 1970s, and finally we'll read about the contemporary street music of New Orleans. Rather than a simple, chronological study however, we'll consider the narratives and ideas and personalities laced through these texts, from the philosophic musings of Sidney Bechet to the voodoo spirituality of Dr. John, from the situation of music in the murderous streets of 100 years ago to its analogous circumstances today. We'll pay particular attention to questions of money and mortality, and the way music would seem to bring a reverse-logic to the lives of New Orleanians and to serve as a primary vehicle by which "New Orleans," as a cultural force, travels far beyond the particular confines of Southeast Louisiana. In a sense, then, we'll conclude the course by studying a series of departures from the city, from Buddy Bolden's to Souljah Slim’s.