Seminar: The World of Thelonious Monk


This course explores 20th century cultural history through the music, ideas, and image of pianist/composer Thelonious Monk. We are particularly interested in how Monk has been "constructed" by critics, fans, writers, visual artists, the music industry, the media, etc., and how Monk himself helped shape his public image. After all, Monk became a major icon for Beat generation poets, surrealist artists, and emerging avant garde jazz musicians, despite the fact that he neither identified nor engaged these creative artists directly.

Introduction to Jazz Studies


Columbia University

Anthropology, African-American Studies, and American Studies

Fall 2005


Regular attendance and full participation in the seminar, including a short presentation (15 minutes) in one session

Read the three assigned texts and the xeroxed readings

Write two short papers (3-5 pages)

1) comparing two histories OR two textbooks on jazz chosen from the list on pp. 320-321 of Jazz 101 or in consultation with the instructor

The New Thing


Yale University


Spring 2004

An examination of the new jazz that emerged shortly after the middle of the 20th century. Discussion will include the work of musicians such as Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, Don Cherry, Anthony Braxton, Carla Bley, Albert Ayler, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago; the economics and politics of the period; parallel developments in other arts; the rise of new performance spaces, recording companies, and collectives; the accomplishments of the music and the problems it raised for jazz performance and criticism.

Jazz on Film


Columbia University

African-American Studies, Anthropology, and Film

Fall 2006

Course Requirements

1) Regular attendance and participation

2) Attendance at film showings

3) Read all assigned texts

4) 1-page paper on each week's film, due in class the week of the showing, beginning Sept 19

5) A short classroom presentation on one of the scheduled films or related material

6) Final paper of 15-20 pages (based on a topic that has been discussed with the instructor)

Required Reading

Historiography of Early Jazz


Yale University

Spring 2003

This seminar will undertake critical reading of the earliest commentaries on jazz (including the writings of musicians, literary critics, educators, the popular press, and artists (especially the Futurists, Surrealists, and Dadaists), and of the first attempts at jazz history. Discussion will include the dates and characteristics of the earliest jazz, the role of race in jazz commentary, and the place of jazz in twentieth century discourse. Recordings and films will supplement the readings.



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