Here is the syllabus for the fourth installment of my Digitizing Folk Music History research seminar, in which undergraduate students join me in studying the folk music revival digitally, with a topical concentration on the Berkeley Folk Music Festival and a methodological focus on digital approaches to historical inquiry.
Because the course takes place behind Northwestern’s firewall (copyright issues!), this term I will be offering examples of student work and reflections on the course as it relates to the larger Digital Berkeley Folk Music Festival Project and digital history as a method.
— Michael Kramer
Digitizing Folk Music History
Using the digitized archive of the Berkeley Folk Music Festival, students explore the history of the “folk revival,” American music, the culture of the Cold War, and theories of the archive while also investigating new methods in the emerging field digital history. In addition to weekly mini-blog assignments, students complete a final interpretive digital history project based on original research in the Berkeley collection. This project fulfills the History 395 research paper requirement. In the course, we ask what was at stake in the Berkeley Festival, which ran from 1958 to 1970. How did it relate to American culture and politics, questions of race, class, gender, age, and region, and issues of memory and music-making? We also examine how digital media and tools can aid in this pursuit. This is an upper-level research seminar and includes intensive reading, listening, and viewing assignments. Be prepared to complete all work, participate actively in seminar discussions and an online course blog, and challenge yourself both in terms of how you understand history and the digital. Neither musical expertise, nor computer programming skills are needed to enroll in the course. Each student will be evaluated based on class participation, digital mini-projects, blog posts, presentations, and final interpretive digital history projects in WordPress based on primary sources found in the Berkeley Folk Music Festival collection.
Dr. Michael J. Kramer
History & American Studies
Office hours: Tuesday, 2-3pm or by appointment.
Office location: 212 Harris Hall
Center for Scholarly Communication & Digital Curation
Office hours: by appointment.
Office location: Digital Collections, Level 2, East Tower, University Library.
▪ Deepen understanding of the “folk revival” as a lens on modern US history.
▪ Sharpen historical research skills by wielding evidence effectively to produce new analyses that are in conversation with existing interpretations of the past.
▪ Develop a better sense of cultural history as a methodology.
▪ Investigate the emerging methodologies of digital history: work with multimedia evidence and multimodal argument; use the digital database as a new kind of historical research and publication tool; pursue both “close reading” and “distant reading” of evidence in digital form; discover new relationships between digitized archive, research workshop, publication, and scholarly communication; generate new modes of individual and collective historical inquiry using digital tools; create new approaches to narrative and historical interpretation within digital formats.
▪ Contribute to the digital repository and collection development for The Digital Berkeley Folk Music Festival Project.
(books available at NU Norris Bookstore, on 1-day reserve at NU Library Reserves desk, or through Interlibrary Loan at the NU Library)
▪ Ronald D. Cohen, Rainbow Quest: The Folk Music Revival and American Society, 1940-1970(Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2002)
▪ Benjamin Filene, Romancing the Folk: Public Memory and American Roots Music (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999)
▪ Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Volume One (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2005)
▪ W.J. Rorabaugh, Berkeley At War: The 1960s (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989)
▪ 1964 and 1968 Digital Berkeley Folk Music Festival Archive via our course WordPress website (http://bfmf.northwestern.edu/digitalarchive/).
11 blog mini-projects, 5% each = 55%
▪ Original post. Usually due on Mondays by midnight.
▪ At least one substantive and thoughtful comment on a fellow classmate’s post. Be critical, ask questions, respond meaningfully, but do so constructively and supportively. Usually due on Wednesdays by midnight.
▪ One follow-up comment on your post in which you reflect on the mini-project in hindsight. What worked and did not work? What did the mini-project make you think about in terms of history, the folk revival, and using the digital to study the past? Usually due on Fridays by midnight.
Final interpretive digital history project = 25%
Class participation and discussion = 20%
▪ Please come to seminar meetings prepared to discuss the following: What is the most important point you learned from today’s materials? What is the most important question you have about today’s materials? Each student will receive a midterm evaluation, evaluation of final project, and final term evaluation in the course.
▪ Each student will lead one seminar discussion with a partner. Your task is to facilitate our conversation using the questions above: what themes should we address in our materials? What kinds of questions can deepen our understanding of the folk music revival and related historical topics? How are we relating those histories and issues to digital approaches to historical study? Direct us to key passages in our materials, help us to engage with our evidence and the interpretations swirling around it.
You will receive a midterm evaluation from the instructor before the drop deadline and a final evaluation at the end of the course.
Notes on Using a WordPress Course Blog
We will be using a password-protected WordPress blog as the main arena for writing, conversation, and digital research and publication beyond classroom meetings. The blog url ishttp://bfmf.northwestern.edu. Log in using your Northwestern Net ID and password athttps://bfmf.northwestern.edu/wp-login.php. WordPress is very simple blogging software, but it can be stretched and expanded in productive ways. For basic instructions on using WordPress, see: http://codex.wordpress.org. But I suggest simply diving in and using it as the platform is fairly intuitive.
Please note that by enrolling in the course, you agree that it is acceptable to share your classroom work as part of the Digital Berkeley Folk Music Festival Project. If you have any concerns—technical, personal, ethical—about public uses of your course blog entries, please feel absolutely free to confer with me to make arrangements. Generally, I advocate what has become known as “open access” in digital work, but there can be very important and worthy exceptions to this philosophy. If you are curious, here is more on the ethics of public blogs for classroom use here:http://hastac.org/blogs/superadmin/2012/11/30/guidelines-public-student-class-blogs-ethics-legalities-ferpa-and-more.
All Weinberg College and Northwestern policies concerning plagiarism and academic dishonesty are strictly enforced in this course. See http://www.wcas.northwestern.edu/advising/integrity for more details. In addition, because we are using potentially copyrighted materials in digital form, you will be asked by the Northwestern library to sign a waiver form that you will not violate any copyright laws. If you do so, this also constitutes academic dishonesty. If you have any question as to what constitutes plagiarism or academic dishonesty or copyright violation, please feel free to contact the instructor. Please note that under WCAS and Northwestern policy, the instructor is required to report any suspected instances of academic dishonesty. The instructor also reserves the right to assign a failing grade for the course if a student is found to have violated college or university policy concerning academic integrity.
History Writing Center
The History Department Writing Center is available for students at any level or stage of the writing process: reading evidence, “brainstorming,” generating an argument, connecting argument to evidence, structuring paragraphs and transitions, and improving style and tone. Wen-Qing Ngoie is the History Department Writing Center coordinator. Her office hours are at the Library Cafe (mezz. level) on Mondays and Tuesdays from 11am to 2pm, or by appointment. Students wishing to contact Wen-Qing should email email@example.com. While the University Writing Place (http://www.writing.northwestern.edu/) remains an excellent resource, the History Writing Center, staffed by a department graduate student, offers advice tailored to the specific challenges of writing in a historical mode.
Students with special needs and disabilities that have been declared and documented through the Northwestern Office of Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) should meet with the instructor to discuss any specific accommodations. For further information, see the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) website: http://www.northwestern.edu/disability.
|Tu 1/7||What the Folk? Introduction.|
|Th 1/9||What the Folk? Introduction.||READING:
|Mon 1/13, midnight.||Blog 1. Set up WordPress account, test WordPress. Write an introductory post that explains (a) what you know about folk music and digital history now, (b) why you are interested in the course, and (c) what is the most intriguing aspect of the syllabus to you.|
|WEEK 2||WHAT WAS THE FOLK REVIVAL?|
|Tu 1/14||What Was the Folk Revival?||READING:
|Wed 1/15, midnight.||Blog comment due.|
|Th 1/16||What Was the Folk Revival?||READING:
|Fri 1/19, midnight.||Blog follow-up comment due.|
|Mon 1/20, midnight.||Blog 2. Crocodoc annotation assignment: (A) article annotation. (B) archival document annotation.|
|WEEK 3||What Was the Folk Revival? Continued.|
|Tu 1/21||What Was the Folk Revival?||READING:
|Wed 1/22, midnight.||Blog comment due.|
|Th 1/23||Naming Compasses: Folk vs. Roots vs. Vernacular Music||READING
|Fri, 1/24, midnight.||Blog follow-up comment due.|
|Mon 1/27, midnight.||Blog 3. Timeline assignment.|
|WEEK 4||(I GOT THEM OL’) AUTHENTIC BLUES|
|Tu 1/28||Authenticity Workers: From Leadbelly to the Library of Congress.||READING:
|Wed 1/29, midnight.||Blog comment due.|
|Th 1/30||The Authenticity Blues.||READING:
|Fri 1/31, midnight.||Blog follow-up comment due.|
|Mon 2/3||Blog 4. Audio remix assignment.Blog 5. Final Project interests blog post.|
|WEEK 5||REMIXOLOGY: SOURCES AND RE-SOURCES OF THE REVIVAL|
|Wed 2/5, midnight.||Blog comment due.|
|Fri 2/7, midnight.||Blog follow-up comment due.|
|Mon 2/10, midnight.||Blog 6. Deformance and Performance Assignment.|
|WEEK 6||OF FOLK AND FOLKSONOMIES: APPROACHING DIGITAL HISTORY|
|Tu 2/11||What is Digital History?||READING:
|Wed 2/12, midnight.||Blog comment due.|
|Th 2/13||PopcornMaker/Popcorn.JS workshop|
|Fri 2/14, midnight.||Blog follow-up comment due.|
|Mon 2/17, midnight.||Blog 7. PopcornMaker, Popcorn.js experiments assignment.|
|WEEK 7||BERKELEY IN THE SIXTIES|
|Tu 2/18||Research time – no class|
|Wed 2/19, midnight.||Blog comment due.|
|Th 2/20||Berkeley in the Sixties||READING:
|Fri 2/21, midnight||Blog follow-up comment due.|
|Mon 2/22, midnight.||Blog 8. Mapping assignment.|
|WEEK 8||THE FESTIVAL IS HISTORY|
|Tu 2/25||What is a Folk Festival?||READING:
|Wed 2/26, midnight.||Blog comment due.|
|Th 2/27||PopcornMaker/Popcorn.js workshop 2|
|Fri 2/28, midnight.||Blog follow-up comment due.|
|Mon 3/3, midnight.||Blog 9. Wireframing/Prezi assignment (conceptualizing argument and flow in an interpretive digital history project).|
|Tu 3/4||Digital Project Hootenanny!|
|Wed 3/3, midnight.||Blog comment due.|
|Fri 3/7, midnight.||Blog 9 follow-up comment due.|
|Mon 3/10, midnight.||Blog 10. Final project draft.Blog 11. Reflections on interpretive digital history.|
|Fri, 3/21, midnight.||FINAL PROJECT DUE.|