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Mississippi: Chasing the Blues

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Course Location:
US-Mississippi
Program Dates:
January 1 - 9, 2014
Credit:
ALAN 96/ MU 12/ HIST 80 - 3 credits This course is approved for D1 diversity credit.
Instructor:
Mark Greenberg
Cost:
The program fee is set at $754. Airfare and meals additional. Tuition is part of your spring course load unless you register for more than 18 credits.
Prerequisites:
No Prerequisites specified

JHURTThis is a Winter/Spring 2014 course with travel from 1/1/14 through 1/9/14 followed by self-directed/on-line learning during the Spring 2014 term.

Folklorist Alan Lomax called the Mississippi Delta “the land where the blues began.” It produced such incredible and important musicians as Robert Johnson, Son House, Muddy Waters, and others who laid the foundation for what would one day become rock and roll. Some of these musicians migrated to Memphis, where the blues began developing a more urban sound, laying the groundwork for R&B and soul.

In Chasing the Blues, we’ll explore the music, history, and geography of the Mississippi Delta and Memphis. We’ll visit such Delta landmarks as the “blues crossroads,” the Delta Blues Museum, the Stovall Plantation (Muddy Waters), the Tutweiller train station where W.C. Handy first heard a farmhand singing the blues, Po Monkey’s juke joint, Ground Zero blues club, the B.B. King Museum, and Mississippi John Hurt’s cabin. In Memphis, we’ll visit Beale Street blues clubs, the Rock & Soul Museum, Sun Records, and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. Students may Chasers-@-Tutwiler-1aalso choose to visit Graceland. Along the way we’ll hear live music, including a special session at the Center for Southern Folklore and a visit with musician/blues scholar Andy Cohen. We’ll also explore the relationship between the blues and the struggle for racial equality and civil rights, culminating in a visit to National Civil Rights Museum (in the former Loraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated).

Students will prepare for the trip by attending a 3-hour, Fall semester class meeting and by listening to representative blues recordings, watching video clips, and reading about the history of the Delta and the blues. During the trip, there will be evening sessions to discuss students’ observations and view films. There will also be a post-trip, Spring semester meeting. Students will keep a travel journal and will submit one short paper and a final project during the spring term.

For photos from earlier trips click here.

Learning Objectives

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  • To increase awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the blues as a distinctly American musical form
  • To explore relationships between the blues and the political, social, economic, and geographical context (the Mississippi Delta) in which it developed
  • To explore the relationships between “black” and “white” American cultural forms and between folk-based and popular culture
  • To increase understanding of the Civil Rights Movement

Mark Greenberg (instructor) is an educator, writer, musician, and media producer. He has been teaching courses in American vernacular music and culture at UVM since 2005. Previously, he taught American Studies and Humanities at Goddard College. He has produced recordings for Pete Seeger, Doc Watson and other major American folk and vernacular musicians.

Clyde Stats (TA) teaches courses on the blues, jazz, and rock and roll at UVM and Johnson State College. He is also a highly-regarded and versatile bass player.

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