From its beginnings, jazz was shaped by race relations as well as 19th and 20th century economic, social and political conditions in the United States; in turn, jazz had a marked influence on U.S. culture, in general; the jazz aesthetic had an enormous impact in a range of fields from literature and film to the fine arts, fashion and advertising. In both domestic and international contexts, American jazz became an emblem for individual rights and freedom in general. In addition to the appreciation and analysis of the work of great musicians ranging from W.C. Handy and Louis Armstrong to Charles Mingus and Miles Davis - as well as links to related genres such as gospel, blues, rock and roll and hip-hop - we will examine the interconnection of jazz and the larger political and socioeconomic process.
Students in this course are expected to engage the intersections of jazz, politics and culture using a transdisciplinary mode of inquiry that will include perspectives from art, music, film and literature as well as more musicological and archival explorations.