03
Dec
14

Coursera – The American South: Its Stories, Music, and Art

I love the blues. It would be the single musical form I’d pick if I could listen to only one for the rest of my life. It gave rise to rock ‘n’ roll, and is amongst the most human of art forms, I think.

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But I thought it would be interesting to learn more about the art forms from the area that gave birth to the blues. So I just completed a six-week Coursera course called The American South: Its Stories, Music, and Art.

It was really enjoyable, and a lot more leisurely than some of the maths or programming courses I’ve done. Here’s the syllabus:

  • Week One: Introduction to the American South – Reflecting on geography, the diaspora, the mythic and the global South as ways to approach the contested memory of the region
  • Week Two: Oral Traditions – Considering the content and form of the stories, toasts, dozens, auctions and religious sermons and what they reveal about Southern Culture
  • Week Three: Southern Artists – Understanding the distinction between folk art traditions and the high art of the academy with examples of basket-weaving, quilt-making, sculpture, painting, and photography
  • Week Four: Southern Writers – Examining the lives and works of great Southern writers and looking at how specific stories, music, and art are referenced and provide structure for literary forms such as the novel and the short story
  • Week Five: Roots Music – Exploring southern music and its roots in work chants, fife and drum, and one-strand on the wall musics
  • Week Six: The Blues – Focusing on this distinctive form of music, so intimately defined by sense of place, class, race, and tradition

The lecturer was Dr. William Ferris of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and he was a really pleasant and interesting instructor. I’d recommend this course for anyone interested in the American South’s culture.

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