Thursday, May 03, 2007

Prof. Lorna Dee Cervantes - Black Studies 3020/ ETHN 3022 - Black Women's Music: Civil War to Civil Rights

I'm really excited about finally getting a chance to teach this course. My last Chicana Poetry class went really well, I thought. And I love working with Ethnic Studies students and for the Ethnic Studies Department. You can't beat an historical foundation for holding the metahistorical house in play. I was just added as profe of this course so here's what's listed on the website so far:

Boulder Main Campus Fall 2007

Intensive examination of a particular topic, theme, issue, or problem concerning the black presence, as chosen by the instructor. Sample offerings could include the black family institution, the civil rights movement, and Martin Luther King Jr. May be repeated up to 6 total credit hours on different topics. Formerly BLST 3020.

NOTE: You must attend regularly to guarantee your place in a course during the first two weeks of the semester. If you fail to do so, you may be administratively dropped at the discretion of the department offering the course. Check with your instructor regarding their specific policy regarding being dropped for nonattendance. You may also be dropped at the discretion of the department if you do not have the proper course prerequisites. It is your responsibility to know whether or not you are still registered in each of your classes at the end of the drop/add period.

Course Section Section Title Credits Instructor Call # Enr/Max/Wait Days Meeting Time Building
ETHN3022 001 SELECTED TOPICS IN BLST 3.0 83926 43/45/0 W 3:00 PM - 5:30 PM GUGG - 205
Here's a preliminary syllabus, my course description and texts:

ETHN 3022 (001) Selected Topics in Black Studies
"Women, Race, Class and Culture; Or, Memphis Minnie Meets the Text of the State - Black Women's Music: Civil War to Civil Rights"

W : 3- 5:30. GUGG 205

Professor Lorna Dee Cervantes
Office: 103 Hellems


With an emphasis on tracing one rural black woman's 50-year career, Elizabeth "kid" Douglas aka the blues artist, "Memphis Minnie" (1896-1973), we will examine black history as we engage in the cultural productions forged by it. We will study significant figures of the various cultural movements as we focus attention upon their words and acts under the grid of historical facts; among them: Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells, Margaret Walker, Phyllis Wheatley, Gwendolyn Brooks, Marcus Garvey, Langston Hughes, Sterling Brown, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Muddy Waters, W. E. B. Dubois, Martin Luther King, Jr., James Baldwin, Paul Robeson, Mahalia Jackson, Nina Simone, Bernice Regan, Sweet Honey on the Rock, and others.

This course will focus on the lyric and poetry in general, as well as introduce a semiotic approach to the music and performance: the rhetoric of the signified. This course will require literary as well as historical analyses as we examine the elements and forces at work and play in the development of a people's music, and trace how that music forged a community consciousness - a Spirit and will to change. This course will require extensive reading and writing along with listening. A final 12-page research paper or final project is required.

Required Texts:

Davis, Angela. Women, Race, Class. Paperback. First Vintage Books Edition. Random House. 1983. ISBN-13: 978-0394713519

Davis, Angela. Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday (Paperback) First Vintage Books Edition. Random House. 1999. ISBN-13: 978-0679771265

Hooks, Bell. Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism (Paperback) South End Press, 1999. ISBN-13: 978-0896081291

Holliday, Billie (as told to John Chilton). Billie's Blues: The Story of Billie Holliday, 1933-1959. (paperback). Stein & Day Paperback , 1978. ISBN-13: 978-0812870046

Albertson, Chris. Bessie. (Paperback) Scarborough House; Reissue edition, 1974. ISBN-13: 978-0812817003

Lieb, Sandra. Mother of the Blues: A Study of Ma Rainey. (Paperback) University of Massachusetts Press; Reprint edition (August 1983) ISBN-13: 978-0870233944

Harrison, Daphne. Black Pearls: Blues Queens of the 1920s. (Paperback) Rutgers University Press; Reprint edition (June 1990) ISBN-13: 978-0813512808.

Garon, Paul and Garon, Beth. Woman With A Guitar: Memphis Minnie's Blues. Da Capo (January 1, 2001) ISBN-13: 978-0306804601.

Angelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. (Paperback) Virago Books (1993) ISBN-13: 978-0860685111.

Adoff, Arnold and Brooks, Gwendolyn. The Poetry Of Black America: Anthology of the 20th Century. HarperTeen; [1st ed.] edition (April 18, 1973) ISBN-13: 978-0060200893.


Ya'll probably wonder what a Xicana poet (as avocation) is doing teaching a Black Studies course. But actually, my academic work is in indigenous and critical philosophy: axiology and aesthetics. This course is modeled after my dissertation, ECOPOETICS: Towards A Semiotics of the Poetic Consciousness. My doctoral study was under my mentor, the metahistorian, semiotician, tropologist, Hayden White: the "political unconscious" (Jameson) and the "rhetoric of the signified" (White); my method was semiological and my theory and practice, postmodern and pre-columbian. My corpus of analyses was the anti-aesthetic: specifically, rural Southern Black women's music (1911-1973) with a special emphasis on Elizabeth "Kid" "Lizzie" Douglas (Memphis Minnie) and the period of her 50-year career as a blues artist, lyricist and composer -- and, the unsung Mother of Rock and Roll, little known inventor of the electric guitar (1911-1961). In the dissertation I engage Hegelian and Kantian models as I analyze and trace the Master/Slave dialectic (Hegel) in light of the "categorical imperative" (Kant) and the Kantian question of The Enlightenment: "Is Man (sic) Constantly Progressing?" I attempt to compare and contrast two distinct modes of cultural consciousness and epistemologies during the same years (1911-1961): impoverished rural Black Southern women of the diaspora (Algiers, Louisiana; Walls, Mississippi; Memphis, Tennessee; Chicago, Illinois) with the Aryan culture of Munich, Germany. I attempt to trace the rise of power and the development of consciousness as shifts (the rhetoric) in modes of exercising and resisting power; specifically, a repressive power-over -- the sole means of expression being through violence, force, starvation, restraint, genocide. Et cetera. The Slave and Master dance. Same old, same old to some. But, not. I attempt to trace the instantiation of a will-to-power (Nietsche) and the transmogrification into a will-to-power-with (LDC via Starhawk and bell hooks theories of love.)

Anyway, don't get scared if you're interested in taking the course. We will be doing a lot of listening and discovering, speaking and uncovering, enlightening and recovery. Maybe we'll even dare to dance. We'll read some interesting books. And, maybe best of all for most, you don't have to know what I just said (typed). And if you like the blues, want to brush up on (or dip into) your Black history, and would like to discover an amazing entertainer, incredible poet, unforgettable guitarist and musical genius, and courageous woman; practice your writing skills, your qualitative and critical skills in a non-threatening environment -- or, maybe you would just like to trace what led us all to now -- then this is the course for you. As always, this course will require extensive reading and writing. And, not much bullying. Punish/Discipline (Foucault) has no place in love. And, you can cite me on that. Spread it around.


Blogger Unknown said...

Lorna - trying to reach you. We won a PUSHCART PRIZE for SHELLING THE PECANS in OCHO.

email me

4/5/07 13:49  
Blogger Lorna Dee Cervantes said...

Hey Didi,

That FANTASTIC news! REALLY? That makes my day. Really. Far out. That YOU, Didi, for asking for the poem, then nominating it.

4/5/07 14:24  
Blogger Unknown said...

I need you to call me so I can send in the permission to publish to pushcart -- please call. I have to go pick up my kids.


4/5/07 15:00  

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