ENG. 3643, AFRICAN-AMERICAN FOLKLORE
TR 11-12:15, Wilson 327F
Instructor: Richard Burns
Office: Wilson 213
Office phone: 972-3043
Office hours: TR 12:30-1:45 PM; or by appointment
COURSE DESCRIPTION: African-American culture and history as illuminated through folk and popular music, oral narratives, and other New World black traditions.
Alan Dundes, ed. Mother Wit from the Laughing Barre. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1990.
Lawrence W. Levine, Black Culture and Black Consciousness. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977.
Robert Palmer, Deep Blues. New York: Penguin Books, 1982.
COURSE REQUIREMENTS: Two in-class essay examinations, each worth approximately 30% of your final grade. One 8-10 page typed double-spaced term paper based on original collecting and library research, worth approximately 40% of your final grade (additional guidelines will be forthcoming). Required readings must be completed by the dates listed on the calendar. You are also responsible for any materials distributed in class or covered in lectures and class discussions.
COURSE OUTLINE: (Reading assignments are due prior to each week* of class. The following is subject to modification):
Aug. 20-25: COURSE INTRODUCTION/OVERVIEW; BASIC CONCEPTS AND DEFINITIONS. Lawrence W. Levine, "Preface." In Black Culture and Black Consciousness, pp. ix-xvi.
Aug. 25-27: BLACK FOLK BELIEF. Lawrence W. Levine, "Chapter One: The Sacred World of the Black Slaves" and "Chapter Three: Freedom, Culture, and Religion." In Black Culture and Black Consciousness, pp. 3-80, 136-189. Leonora Herron and Alice M. Bacon, "Conjuring and Conjure Doctors"; Norman E. Whitten, Jr., "Contemporary Patterns of Malign Occultism Among Negroes in North Carolina"; Robert Winslow Gordon, "Negro 'Shouts' from Georgia"; James Lovell, Jr. "Social Implications of the Negro Spiritual"; and H. B. Parks, "Follow the Drinking Gourd." In Mother Wit from the Laughing Barrel, pp. 359-368, 402-418, 445-468.
Sept. 1-3: THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN FOLKTALE: ORIGIN AND MEANING. Lawrence W. Levine, "Chapter Two: The Meaning of the Slave Tales." In Black Culture and Black Consciousness, pp. 81-135; Alan Dundes, "African Tales Among the North American Indians." In Mother Wit from the Laughing Barrel, pp. 114-125; Xerox of Richard M. Dorson's "Origins of American Negro Folktales." In American Negro Folktales, pp. 12-18.
Sept. 8-10: THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN FOLKTALE (CONT.). Sept. 15-17: AFRICAN-AMERICAN SECULAR SONG IN THE 19TH CENTURY: AFRICAN ROOTS, NEW WORLD OFFSHOOTS. Lawrence W. Levine, "Chapter Four: The Rise of Secular Song." In Black Culture and Black Consciousness, pp. 190-297.
Sept. 22-24: AFRICAN-AMERICAN SECULAR SONG IN THE 20TH CENTURY: THE BLUES. Robert Palmer, Deep Blues, pp. 1-47; Richard Alan Waterman, "African Influences on the Music of the Americas." In Mother Wit from the Laughing Barrel, pp. 81-94. Discussion of research project.
Sept. 29-Oct. 1: THE BLUES (CONT.). Robert Palmer, Deep Blues, pp. 48-310.
Oct. 6-8: THE BLUES (CONT.). Alan Lomax, "I Got the Blues"; and Samuel C. Adams, Jr. "The Acculturation of the Delta Negro." In Mother Wit from the Laughing Barrel, pp. 469-486, 515-521. Discuss progress of research project, abstract and sources for collecting data. Abstract due Oct. 22.
Oct. 13: MID-TERM EXAM.
Oct. 15: HEROES, BAD MEN, AND BLACK FOLK HUMOR. Lawrence W. Levine, "Chapter Five: Black Laughter." In Black Culture and Black Consciousness, pp. 298-366. Oct. 20-22: HEROES, BAD MEN, AND BLACK FOLK HUMOR (CONT.) "Chapter Six: A Pantheon of Heroes," and "Epilogue." In Black Culture and Black Consciousness, pp. 367-445. Turn in abstract Oct. 22.
Oct. 27: HEROES, BAD MEN, AND BLACK FOLK HUMOR (CONT.) Zora Neale Hurston, "High John de Conquer"; Harry Oster, "Negro Humor: John & Old Master"; Leon R. Harris, "The Steel Drivin' Man"; and Richard M. Dorson, "The Career of 'John Henry.'" In Mother Wit from the Laughing Barrel, pp. 541-577.
Oct. 29: Your instructor will be out of town this day, but will schedule an activity in lieu of class.
Nov. 3-5: BLACK FOLKLORE IN THE CITY. Roger D. Abrahams, "Playing the Dozens"; Claudia Mitchell Kernan, "Signifying"; William Labov, Paul Cohen, Clarence Robins, and John Lewis, "Toasts"; Nathan and Joanne Kantrovitz, "Meet 'Mr. Franklin': An Example of Usage"; and H. Rap Brown, "Street Smarts." In Mother Wit from the Laughing Barrel, pp. 295-356. Discuss ongoing research (papers due 26 Nov.).
Nov. 10-12: BLACK FOLKLORE IN THE CITY (CONT.) Xerox copies of Michael Scott's "Meditations on the Blues and Rap Music," Mississippi Folklore Register 24 (1990): 17-33; and Don Cusic's "From Zap to Rap: Digital Sampling, Rap Music, and the Folk Tradition," Bulletin of the Tennessee Folklore Society 54 (1991): 139-143.
Nov. 17-19: CREOLE CULTURE IN NORTH AMERICA. Lorenzo D. Turner, "Problems Confronting the Investigator of Gullah"; David Dalby, "Americanisms That May Once Have Been Africanisms"; and J. L. Dillard, "On the Grammar of Afro-American Naming Practices." In Mother Wit from the Laughing Barrel, pp. 126-140, 175-181; Xerox of Nick Spitzer's "Cajuns and Creoles: The French Gulf Coast," Southern Exposure 5 (1977): 140-155.
Nov. 24: AFRICAN-AMERICAN MATERIAL CULTURE. Xeroxed handouts.
Nov. 26: Research papers due at the beginning of class.
Dec. 1-3: CATCH-UP AND REVIEW.
Dec. 10: FINAL EXAM: 12:30-2:30 PM
*The policies of ASU state that class attendance is mandatory and habitual tardiness is unacceptable. If you are unavoidably absent, you are responsible for any information or materials covered during that session. If you miss more than six class meetings (i.e., a total of three weeks of class) during the semester, I reserve the right to lower your final grade by one letter. If you are absent during an exam, you must have a verifiable justifiable excuse and you must take a make-up within one week upon your return. Late work will receive one grade lower for each day past the due date. Attendance is extremely critical in performing well in this course.