Courses I’ve taught include music/culture classes for all undergraduates (Music and Protest, Music in American Life, Popular Music in the US) in addition to specialized courses (seminars on Transatlantic Popular Music in the 1960s, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’s Life and Works, Puccini’s Operas in Social-Historical Perspective, Feminist Theory and the Study of Music) and a one-year survey for music majors (Chant to Beethoven / Beethoven to Virtual Music).
Music Projects: Special Topics is a writing-intensive course in which students choose their own topics, investigate them rigorously, and produce formal research papers based on their findings. Students engage in peer review throughout the semester, give periodic informal presentations to the class, and receive ongoing instruction in academic writing and research methods.
Music and Social Justice (MU322). Permission required. Enrollment Cap: 15. Tutor Clearances required (https://my.bucknell.edu/x56471.html).
This course examines the music and historical background of major US movements–abolition, women’s suffrage, labor unionism, civil rights, and Vietnam–in addition to music generated recently in contexts such as the Gezi Park protests in Turkey, the aboriginal rights movement in Australia, and human rights activism in Russia. Reaching back to the World War II era, we will also explore the rich body of music created in response to the Holocaust, fascism in Italy, and the Nazi occupation of France.
The course pays special attention to social justice issues associated with the US criminal justice system, with a focus on incarcerated youth. For seven of the semester’s fifteen weeks students and I will conduct class with residents at the Danville North Central Secure Treatment Unit for incarcerated juvenile girls. In preparation for this part of the course we will examine the recent writings of scholars such as Michelle Alexander, Maya Schenwar, William Stuntz, and many others, but also the music created by prisoners themselves, past and present, in the form of recordings, documentary films, and videos. We will also survey the burgeoning field of internet-circulated activist music focused on the criminal justice system.
Our weekly activities at the facility will be determined largely by the preferences of the juvenile girls themselves and will be drawn from the following: singing, drumming, discussion of selected pieces of music and videos, and instruction on lyric writing and basic song forms. We will also share our experiences with others doing similar music work across the nation via the Prison Arts Coalition website.
Throughout the semester students will present their research and writing (on music, artist manifestos, scholarly writings and films) to the class; we will analyze and reflect on the ways in which individuals and groups have used music both to express identity and to share their passionately held convictions. We will explore how music-making forges lasting bonds both within and between social groups and provides a means by which we can enact our common humanity.
A long-term goal in bringing Bucknell students into collaboration with the inmates and correctional officers at Danville is to create a structure by which an ongoing music program at the prison can be sustained. I am grateful to Janice Butler and Bucknell University’s Office of Civic Engagement for their support of this initiative.