What can be better than walking into a classroom to the sweet sounds of Aretha Franklin? That was the case today when I shopped, “African and African American Studies 182: R & B, Soul, and Funk,” and walked into the room as the sweet sounds of Aretha’s “Save Me,” blasted through the sound system. (Quick reminder: shopping is the period at the beginning of the semester where students dip in and out of classes they might be interested in taking.) I shopped three classes today, after looking at two on Wednesday. I plan on taking both classes I shopped on Tuesday – one in the Divinity School and the other on W.E.B. Du Bois. Of the classes I shopped today, I will only be able to take two, because of the times. I am set with the R&B, Soul and Funk. Today’s intro started out looking at Muddy Waters, T-Bone Walker and Louis Jordan and will roughly trace the genre of music up until 1982 – before the rise of hip hop. The readings for the class look interesting and the playlist is gonna be incredible. The emergence of Youtube has also made it possible to easily view some of the work. Like today, as we watched Water’s 1960 performance at the Newport Jazz Fest of “Hoochie Coochie Man,” and Louis Jordan’s “Caldonia.” We will soon follow them with Aretha, James Brown, Little Richard, Ray Charles, Sly Stone, Motown, and Stax… I am gonna have a really nice music collection when this is over and a better understanding of the genre. Some might ask why take a music class? The same reason I took a Spike Lee class. To get deeper into the subject and understand the roots of what created this art form. Today, for example, we talked about and listened to 12-bar blues through Muddy Waters’ “Got My Mojo Working,” from 1956. It was a concept I had not been previously familiar with. This is gonna be a fun class. The choices for my other slot are: another music class, Global Hip Hop at 10 a.m., and the Silk Road at 11 a.m. The times overlap, so I can’t take both. Here are the basic course descriptions. What do you think I should do?
- Hip Hop World Order: Appropriation, Localization and Racial Identification of Global Hip Hop: Hiphop is a global phenomenon that influences social life far beyond the music and entertainment industries. Yet beyond descriptions and critiques of its mass appeal, few have considered hiphop’s development of standards and evaluations across nations and all artistic areas and culture. This course examines hiphop culture and the appropriation of hiphop, how local and national areas represent their culture through hiphop and issues of racial identification.
- A Silk Road Course: Travel and Transformation on the High Seas: An Imaginary Journey in the Early 17th Century: A course about global mobility, encounter, and exchange at the time that Harvard College was founded in 1636. Using the interactive resources of computer technology and drawing upon faculty experts from many disciplines, we follow imaginary voyages of three ships that leave England in 1633. Sites include London’s Globe Theatre, Benin, Barbados, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, Morocco, Istanbul, Venice, Virginia, and Cambridge, Massachusetts. Topics include the slave trade, reconnaissance, colonization, conversion, geography, navigation, and literary culture.
I am leaning toward taking the Silk Road, no pun intended. I am shopping one more class on Monday. Will let you know how it turns out