Syllabus: Digitizing Folk Music History Fall 2017

Digitizing Folk Music History

Dr. Michael J. Kramer

History & American Studies, Northwestern University

Overview

This research seminar brings new digital and multimedia tactics of analysis and narrative to bear on the practice of cultural history. Focusing on the twentieth-century US folk music revival, the course asks students to explore different types of materials—readings, sound recordings, documentary films, and more—as we probe what was at stake with the following: how music-making, memory, and power intersect in twentieth-century US history; issues of race, class, gender, age, and region; the interactions of tradition and cultural heritage with new technologies of mediation and communication; and, most of all, the folk revival in relation to American culture and politics writ large. The course culminates for each student in the completion of an interpretive digital history audio podcast project based on original research. For students with advanced digital media/programming skills or musical training, the course presents an opportunity to connect that background to deep historical inquiry; for students interested in acquiring new digital or musical skills, the seminar offers an excellent introductory pathway to these areas of knowledge. Students are expected to read, listen, watch, and discuss our materials intensively as well as successfully complete five digital mini-projects and the final assignment. No previous digital or musical training is required for the course.

Course Objectives

  • Deepen understanding of the folk revival in relation to US history.
  • Sharpen historical research skills (wielding primary sources to produce convincing, fresh, compelling interpretations in conversation with past historical arguments, evidence, and methods).
  • Develop a sense of cultural history methods in particular.
  • Investigate emerging digital history methods of analysis and narrative.
  • Improve digital competencies and multimedia skills, particularly with the use of the WordPress platform (currently in use on roughly 25% of all websites).

Required Materials

Required:

  • Filene, Benjamin, Romancing the Folk: Public Memory and American Roots Music (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999) 9780807848623
  • Cantwell, Robert, When We Were Good: The Folk Revival (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997) 9780674951334
  • Petrusich, Amanda, Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records (New York: Scribner, 2015) 9781451667066
  • Whitehead, Colson, John Henry Days (NY: Anchor, 2001) 9780385498203
  • Nelson, Scott Reynolds, Steel Drivin’ Man: John Henry, the Untold Story of an American Legend (NY: Oxford University Press, 2008) 9780195341195
  • Additional material (readings, listenings, viewings) on course website.

Recommended for Reference:

  • Rosenberg, Neil V. ed., Transforming Tradition: Folk Music Revivals Examined (Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993) 9780252019821
  • Cohen, Ronald D., Rainbow Quest: The Folk Music Revival and American Society, 1940–1970 (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2002) 9781558493483
  • Lornell, Kip, Exploring American Folk Music: Ethnic, Grassroots, and Regional Traditions in the United States (Third edition, Oxford: University Press of Mississippi, 2012) 9781617032646

Schedule

WEEK 1                                         Introduction  
We 09/20 What the Folk? Striking Some First Chords READING:

·      Susan Montgomery, “The Folk Furor,” Madamoiselle, December 1960, 98-100, 117-119

·      N.A. (John McPhee), “Folk Singing: Sibyl With Guitar,” Time, 23 November 1963

·      David A. DeTurk and A. Poulin, Jr., “Preface” and “Introduction: Speculations on the Dimensions of a Renaissance,” in The American Folk Scene: Dimensions of the Folksong Revival, eds. David A. DeTurk and A. Poulin, Jr. (New York: Dell, 1967), 13-34

VIEWING

·      Festival, dir. Murray Lerner (1967)

LISTENING

·      Folk Introduction Mix

WEEK 02 What Was the Folk Revival?
Mo 09/25, midnight Assignment 01: Getting Familiar with WordPress (See assignments section)
Mo 09/25 Creating…and Recreating Cultural Heritage – The Cultural Mediator in the Folk Revival READING

·      Filene, Romancing the Folk, Introduction-Chapter 3, pp. 1-132

·      David Evans, “Folk Music Revival,” Journal of American Folklore 92, 363 (January 1979), pp. 108-top of 109

VIEWING

·      American Roots Music, dir. Jim Brown (2001), Part 1-2

LISTENING

·      Filene Mix

We 09/27 Folklore, Fakelore, and Other Lore READING

·      Filene, Chapter 4, 133-182

·      B.A. Botkin, “The Folksong Revival: Cult or Culture?,” in The American Folk Scene: Dimensions of the Folksong Revival, eds. David A. DeTurk and A. Poulin, Jr. (New York: Dell, 1967), 95-100

·      Lawrence Levine, “The Folklore of Industrial Society: Popular Culture and Its Audiences,” American Historical Review 97, 5 (December 1992): 1369–1399

·      Robin D. G. Kelley, “Notes on Deconstructing ‘The Folk,'” American Historical Review 97, 5 (December 1992): 1400-08

VIEWING

·      ARM doc film, Part 3-4

LISTENING

·      Filene Mix

Fr 09/29, midnight Comments due on Assignment 01
WEEK 03 “When We Were Good”: A Deep Dive
Mo 10/02, midnight Follow-up comments due on Assignment 01
Mo 10/02 Diving In – “Hang Down Your Head” READING

·      Robert Cantwell, When We Were Good: The Folk Revival (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997), Prologue and Chapter 1, 1-48.

·      Keith Weston, “Hang Down Your Head, Tom Dooley,” WUNC, 18, June 2013

VIEWING

·      Songcatcher, dir. David Mansfield (2000)

We 10/04 1900s-1920s – Ballad for Americans READING

·      Cantwell, When We Were Good, Chapter 2 and 3, 49-116

·      Alan Lomax, “Saga of a Folksong Hunter,” HiFi/Stereo Review 4, 5 (May 1960), 40-46, reprinted in Alan Lomax: Selected Writings, 1934-1997, ed. Ronald D. Cohen (New York: Routledge, 2003), 173-186

VIEWING

·      Lomax the Songhunter, dir. Rogier Kappers (2004)

WEEK 04 “When We Were Good”: A Deep Dive
Mo 10/09, midnight Assignment 02: Time and Space, Timeline and Mapping See assignments section
Mo 10/09 1930s-1940s – Ramblin’ Round Your City

 

READING:

·      Cantwell, Chapter 4 and 5, 117-188

·      Michael Denning, “Introduction,” “Waiting For Lefty,” and “Blues From the Piedmont: Josh White’s Jim Crow Blues,” in The Cultural Front: The Laboring of American Culture in the Twentieth Century (New York: Verso, 1997), xiii-50, 348-360

VIEWING:

·      American Epic, Episode 1: The Big Bang, Episode 2: Blood and Soil, Episode 3: Out of the Many, the One, dir. Bernard MacMahon (2017)

We 10/11 1950s – Folk Audiologies – “Smith’s Memory Theater” and “Lomax’s Deep Digitality” READING

·      Cantwell, When We Were Good, Chapter 6, 189-240

·      Henry Adam Svec, “Folk Media: Alan Lomax’s Deep Digitality,” Canadian Journal of Communication Vol 38 (2013), 227-244

LISTENING

·      Anthology of American Folk Music Vol 1-3

VIEWING

·      Some Crazy Magic: Meeting Harry Smith, dir. Drew Christie (animated short, 2011)

Fr 10/13, midnight Comments due on Assignment 02
WEEK 05 Pete
Mo 10/16, midnight Follow-up comments due on Assignment 02
Mo 10/16 1950s-1960s – Pete — “He Shall Overcome” READING

·      Cantwell, When We Were Good, Chapter 7, 241-268

·      Pete Seeger, “Why Folk Music?” International Musician (1965), reprinted in The American Folk Scene: Dimensions of the Folksong Revival, eds. David A. DeTurk and A. Poulin, Jr. (New York: Dell, 1967), 44-49

·      Henry Adam Svec, “Pete Seeger’s Mediated Folk,” Journal of Popular Music Studies, Volume 27, Issue 2, 145–162

·      Senator Kenneth B. Keating, “Mine Enemy, the Folksinger” (1963), reprinted in The American Folk Scene: Dimensions of the Folksong Revival, eds. David A. DeTurk and A. Poulin, Jr. (New York: Dell, 1967), 103-110

VIEWING

·      Pete Seeger, Pete Seeger: The Power of Song, dir. Jim Brown (2007)

We 10/18 Digital Audio Editing Workshop, MADS
WEEK 06 Pete’s Children – The Sixties Folk Revival
Mo 10/23, midnight Assignment 03: “Slow Down, You Move Too Fast”: Annotation and Database Building For Close Reading See assignments section.
Mo 10/23 1960s – The Folkniks READING

·      Ellen J. Stekert, “Cents and Nonsense in the Urban Folksong Movement: 1930-1966,” in Transforming Tradition, 84-106

·      Robert S. Whitman and Sheldon S. Kagan, “The Performance of Folksongs on Recordings,” Studies in Mass Media (March 1964), reprinted in The American Folk Scene: Dimensions of the Folksong Revival, eds. David A. DeTurk and A. Poulin, Jr. (New York: Dell, 1967), 72-79

·      Alan Lomax, “The ‘Folkniks’—and the Songs They Sing,” Sing Out! 9 (1959): 30-31, reprinted in Alan Lomax, Selected Writings, 1934-1997, ed. Ronald D. Cohen

·      John Cohen, “In Defense of City Folksingers,” Sing Out! 9 (1959): 33-34

·      Sam Hinton, “The Singer of Folk Songs and His Conscience,” Western Folklore 14, 3 (1955): 170-173; reprinted in Sing Out! 7, 1 (Spring 1957): 24-26

Viewing:

·      Joan Baez: How Sweet the Sound, dir. Mary Wharton (2009)

We 10/25 1960s – Folk Music and the Civil Rights Movement READING

·      Kerran L. Sanger, “When the Spirit Says Sing!”: The Role of Freedom Songs in the Civil Rights Movement (New York: Garland, 1995), Introduction, Section 1, vii-63

·      Grace Elizabeth Hale, “Black as Folk: The Folk Music Revival, the Civil Rights Movement, and Bob Dylan,” in A Nation of Outsiders: How the White Middle Class Fell in Love with Rebellion in Postwar America, 84-131

Fr 10/27, midnight Comments due on Assignment 03
WEEK 07 Pete’s Children – The Sixties Folk Revival
Mo 10/30, midnight Follow-up comments due on Assignment 03
Mo 10/30 1960s – Folk Revival Death Match 1: Seeger vs. Dylan READING

·      Filene, Romancing the Folk, Chapter 5, 183-236

·      Cantwell, When We Were Good, Chapter 9, 313-354

VIEWING

·      No Direction Home: Bob Dylan, dir. Martin Scorsese, Part 1 (2005)

We 11/01 1960s – Folk Revival Death Match 2: Zimmerman vs. Dylan READING

·      Barry Shank, “‘That Wild Mercury Sound’: Bob Dylan and the Illusion of American Culture,” boundary 2, 9, 1 (Spring 2002), 97-123

·      Elijah Wald, “Think Twice,” Oxford American 95 (Winter 2016)

·      Jeff Todd Titon, “Reconstructing the Blues: Reflections on the 1960s Blues Revival,” in Transforming Tradition, 220-240

VIEWING

·      No Direction Home: Bob Dylan, dir. Martin Scorsese, Part 2 (2005)

·      I’m Not There, dir. Todd Haynes (2007)

Optional:

·      Masked and Anonymous, dir. Larry Charles, screenplay by Bob Dylan and Larry Charles (2003)

WEEK 08 Pete’s Children and Children’s Children – The Sixties Folk Revival and Beyond
Mo 11/06, midnight Assignment 04: Podcasting the Past Experiments and Final Project Prospectus Draft See assignment section.
Mo 11/06 1960s – Folk Revival Death Match 3: New Lost City Ramblers vs. Kingston Trio READING

·      Ray Allen, “In Pursuit of Authenticity: The New Lost City Ramblers and the Postwar Folk Music Revival,” Journal of the Society for American Music 4, 3 (August 2010), 277–305

·      Warren Bareiss, “Middlebrow Knowingness in 1950s San Francisco: The Kingston Trio, Beat Counterculture, and the Production of ‘Authenticity,'” Popular Music and Society, 33, 1 (February 2010), 9–33

Optional:

·      Brian Jones, ” Finding the Avant-Garde in the Old-Time: John Cohen in the American Folk Revival,” American Music 28, 4 (Winter 2010), 402-435

·      Amanda Petrusich, “The Discovery of Roscoe Holcomb and the ‘High Lonesome Sound’,” New Yorker, 17 December 2015

VIEWING

·      The New Lost City Ramblers: Always Been a Rambler, dir. Yasha Aginsky (2009)

LISTENING

·      NLCR Covers vs. Originals Listening Mix

We 11/08 Folk Revivalism Since the 1960s READING

·     Amanda Petrusich, Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records (New York: Scribner, 2015), Prologue, Chapter 1, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15

·     John Jeremiah Sullivan, “The Ballad of Geeshie and Elvie,” New York Times, 13 April 2014

·      Josh Garrett-Davis, “The South Stole Americana,” LA Review of Books, 5 January 2016

Optional:

·     Walter Benjamin, “Unpacking My Library: A Talk About Book Collecting” (1931), in Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt, trans. Harry Zohn (New York: Schoken Books, 1978), 59-68

·     Jean Baudrillard, “The System of Collecting” from The System of Objects (1968), in The Cultures of Collecting, eds. John Elsner and Roger Cardinal (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994), 7-24

VIEWING

·      Ghost World, dir. Terry Zwigoff (2001)

·      Desperate Man Blues, dir. Edward Gillian (2003)

Fr 11/10, midnight Comments due on Assignment 04
WEEK 09 Conclusions and Speculations
Mo 11/13, midnight Follow-up comments due on Assignment 04
Mo 11/13 “A Man Ain’t Nothing But a Man”? READING

·      Scott Reynolds Nelson, “The Search For John Henry,” “To The White House,” “The Southern Railway Octopus,” “Songs People Have Sung: 1900-1930,” “Communist Strongman,” “Coda,” Steel Drivin’ Man: John Henry, the Untold Story of an American Legend, 1-40, 93-174

Optional:

·      Colson Whitehead,  John Henry Days

·      Tom Maxwell, “A History of American Protest Music: This Is the Hammer That Killed John Henry,” Longreads, October 2017.

·      Tom Maxwell, “A History of American Protest Music: ‘We Have Got Tools and We Are Going to Succeed’,” Longreads, October 2017.

LISTENING

·      Folk Introduction Mix (John Henry section)

We 11/15 “Nobles, Patrons, Patriots, Reds” READING

·      Cantwell, When We Were Good, Chapter 10, 355-382

LISTENING

·      Folk Introduction Mix

WEEK 10 Conclusions and Speculations
Mo 11/20, midnight Assignment 05: Podcasting the Past Draft Script See assignments section
Mo 11/20 What’s So Funny About the Folk Revival? VIEWING

·      A Mighty Wind, dir. Christopher Guest (2003)

·      O Brother, Where Art Thou?, dirs. Ethan and Joel Coen (2000)

·      Inside Llewyn Davis, dir.  Ethan and Joel Coen (2013)

Tu 11/21, midnight Comments due on Assignment 05
We 11/22, midnight Follow-up comments due on Assignment 05
Fr 12/08, midnight Final Project due.

Evaluation

  • 5 assignment posts, 5% each = 25%
  • 5 assignment responses, 2% each = 10%
  • 5 assignment follow-up comments, 2% each = 10%
  • Class participation and discussion = 25%
  • Final Project = 30%

Rubric

Your task is to develop compelling, well-reasoned, evidence-based interpretations informed by historical and historiographical awareness. Historical awareness involves close attention to the artifacts you analyze as well as the contexts in which they appeared. Historiographical awareness involves grasping what other historians have had to say about your research topic and accurately characterizing the debates among historians with regard to what you are studying. Bringing together your own interpretations of primary sources with mastery of the historiographical debates in stylish and effective narrative makes for powerful historical work.

Overall, historical research is less a science in the positivist, formulaic, or rote sense than a subtle and difficult craft. This craft is what the seminar helps you to develop. Analysis must be grounded in empirical data, but there can be multiple interpretations or “readings” that arise from the data depending on the method employed and the set of primary and secondary sources brought into relation with each other. A strong historical project makes an effective case for its particular position by handling the elements of evidence, argument, argumentation (the connections between the evidence and argument; the method being used and why it is being used), historical context, historiographical debates, and stylish narrative successfully.

We also add additional issues to the mix. We turn to the subfield of cultural history in both senses of the term culture, the aesthetic and the anthropological. First, how does one analyze a wider range of primary and secondary sources: not only the political or legal documents traditionally used to write history, but also music, film, art, material culture, the built environment, presentations of the self, and other more complex forms of human expression. Second, how do we register attitudes, beliefs, and practices not only among elite groups, but a broader range of social actors in the past. Finally, we add in the computational: what are the possibilities for digital history in relation to cultural history? What are the new potential tactics of analysis? Can we develop innovative ways of sharing historical findings with audiences beyond the conventional printed book or essay?

Evaluation criteria

(1) presence of an articulated argument (2) grounded in a close reading of evidence that (3) shows a convincing connection of evidence to argument by comparing and contrasting details and their significance, (4) explaining the details with a logical flow and effective narrative structure. A strong assignment also contains (5) an effective opening introduction, (6) the presence of clear topic sentences, (7) the presence of effective transitions from one part of the assignment to the next, and (8) a compelling conclusion. In this course, evaluation also includes (9) effective use of multimedia and digital elements, with more weight given to experimentation and innovation.

Students must complete all assignments to pass the course.

Late/Extension Policy

Please communicate with your instructor ahead of time if you require an extension for an essay. Reasonable, occasional requests will be granted, but may involve a slight deduction in points to be fair to students who complete work on time. Late assignments without extensions granted will lose 1/4 point per day.

Notes on Using WordPress

We will be using a password-protected WordPress content management system as the main arena for writing, conversation, and digital research and publication beyond classroom meetings. Log in using your Northwestern Net ID and password. WordPress is fairly simple content management software, but it can be stretched and expanded in productive ways for digital cultural historical exploration. There’s a published view (what a reader sees) and then a “dashboard” in which you create content for the website. Think of these as the equivalents of a printed publication and the design studio in which it was made, respectively. For basic instructions on using WordPress, see the WordPress Codex. You can also watch brief instructional videos such as this one. But most of all, I suggest simply diving in and using it as the platform is fairly intuitive.

Academic Integrity

All Weinberg College and Northwestern policies concerning plagiarism and academic dishonesty are strictly enforced in this course. 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. In taking this course, students agree that their coursework can be used publically and in perpetuity as part of the Berkeley Folk Music Festival Project (unless alternative arrangements are made).

Special Needs

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.

Assignments

Assignment 01: Getting Familiar with WordPress

This assignment’s objectives are twofold: to get you acclimated technologically to WordPress if you have not used it before and to get you acclimated intellectually the studying the cultural history of the US folk music revival.

READING:

We will be using a password-protected WordPress content management system as the main arena for writing, conversation, and digital research and publication beyond classroom meetings.

WordPress is fairly simple content management software, but it can be stretched and expanded in productive ways. For basic instructions on using WordPress, see: http://codex.wordpress.org. You can also watch brief instructional videos such as https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zi9uGwXI-NU. But most of all, I suggest simply diving in and using it as the platform is fairly intuitive. There’s a published view (what readers see) and then a “dashboard” or backend in which you create content for the website. Think of these as the equivalent of the printed publication and the design studio in which the publication is prepared, respectively.

Assignment tasks:

  • Create a new “post.” Your post will ultimately consist of three paragraphs and a number of media objects.
  • Write one paragraph in it about your sense of the folk revival: What do you know about the folk revival at the start of our course? What do you wonder about the folk revival’s cultural history at the start of the course.
  • Safe your post as a draft. Do this often. Or write your text in Word or another text application and then paste it in to your “post” text box.
  • Look over the syllabus for the course. Select a sentence from the overview that most intrigues you. Write one paragraph about the sentence: why were you drawn to this sentence? What questions do you have about its content? Safe as draft.
  • Pick a song from the Introduction Mix and write a one-paragraph analysis of it. What do you hear in the song? What makes you curious about it? What is meaningful about it to you, not only in the lyrics, but in the sounds? If this song were a play on a stage (the stage of history), what would be happening? How might you locate this song in a historical context? Does the song “reflect” larger historical forces? Was there a way in which the song itself affected a historical moment and if so how? Safe as draft.
  • Now try inserting a hyperlink over a word or phrase in your post using the “insert/edit link” paperclip button. Paste in a url from the destination website to the insert/edit box after selecting some text.
  • Create a catchy title for your post in the “Enter title here” box.
  • Put a header title above each paragraph in the post. Use the pull-down style menu below the media button to change the style of the font.
  • Adjust the formatting of your post’s text, making a key word or phrase bold or italic or changing the size of the text using the pull-down style menu.
  • Use the media button to upload a relevant image to your post. Download the image from another website or source to upload to your post, trying as best as possible to include a caption that identifies the image and from where it was sourced.
  • If you are feeling daring, try embedding the song you selected from the Introduction Mix in your post if you can locate it. If you cannot locate it, try uploading a YouTube video, Tweet, or other media object in your post. For embedded media uploads, you can refer to the following instructions: https://codex.wordpress.org/Embeds.
  • Take a peek under the hood! In the upper-right corner of the text box, locate the tabs that read “Visual” and “Text.” Click on the tab “Text” to view your post’s html code. See if you can locate any of the code for certain effects (a href for a hyperlink, embed code for the image you uploaded, etc.).
  • **Select the checkbox for “Assignment 01” in the Categories box (usually on the righthand side of the dashboard).**
  • **Create 3-5 tags in the Tags box (usually located below the Categories box, although you can move these boxes around as you wish to customize your dashboard using the Screen Options box at the top right of the post page in your dashboard).
  • Try setting the Featured Image in the Featured Image box of the dashboard (usually below the Tags box).
  • Make sure your post is clicked to the “Standard” format in the Format box (usually below the Featured image box).
  • Make sure your post is clicked to allow comments in the Discussion box.
  • **Be sure to Publish your post.** Click to see what it looks like when published.
  • Think about any questions—technical or intellectual—this post provoked for you.
  • Take a well-deserved break.

Assignment 02: Time and Space, Timeline and Mapping

The goal of this assignment is to explore how historians create overarching narratives of the past and how you might begin to construct such a narrative for the folk revival.

How does linear narrative form a core aspect of historical understanding (since history is, for many, about how to shape events into meaningful temporal sequences)? How does a “master narrative” get constructed out of the chaos and mess of the past? What is the narrative arc of a historical topic or story? Do you see ways of challenging a “master narrative” if it contains problematic portrayals that are inaccurate or unjust or incomplete? These questions of time become particularly fraught when it comes to culture. After all, the folk revival was not a war or a political administration or some other historical phenomenon with more clear start and end dates. How, then, do we sequence it? What if we add space to the picture, as it were, in addition to time?

READING

We will use the tools Timeline JS (https://timeline.knightlab.com) and Storymap JS (https://storymap.knightlab.com), both created at Medill right here at Northwestern. Your final WordPress post should feature the following:

  1. An embedded Timeline JS timeline.
  2. A copy of your Google Sheets spreadsheet (which you can export from Google and then upload to WordPress as an .ods file)
  3. An embedded Storymap JS that geocodes your Timeline events.
  4. A short essay (prompts below)

USING TIMELINE JS

  • Go to the Timeline JS (http://timeline.knightlab.com), read the “About” section (particularly the “tips and tricks”) and browse and play around with some of the example timelines.
  • At the top of the Timeline JS page, click on the green “Make a Timeline” button and follow the instructions to use a Google Docs template to add your data.
  • In Google Docs, use this template to create your timeline data. First, retitle the document as “Last Name_BFMF Timeline.” In the document, follow the template format but update the data provided to include information on 5-15 events you wish to portray in your timeline.
  • When your spreadsheet is complete, follow instruction number 2 back on the Timeline JS website (not on Google) to select “Publish to the Web” as well as instruction items 3 and 4. This allows your database to port into the timeline template and render in your WordPress post.
  • In WordPress, create a new post.  Be sure to save your draft often.
  • Select the Text tab and paste the embed code from Timeline JS to your WordPress post.

SAVE YOUR GOOGLE SHEETS DATA IN WORDPRESS

  • In Google Docs, choose File > Download as > Open Document Format (.ods) and upload/insert that file into your post. This captures your Google Docs spreadsheet in your WordPress post.

USING STORYMAP JS

  • Go to Storymap JS (https://storymap.knightlab.com) and review the website as well.
  • Click the green “Make a Storymap now” button. Follow the instructions to create points on the map from your Timeline elements.
  • When your map is complete (or even before it is finished), click on the Share button and scroll down. Cut the Embed code from the window and past it into your WordPress post with the Text tab selected rather than the Visual tab. Your Storymap should now render in your WordPress post below your timeline and spreadsheet file link.

ADDITIONAL OPTIONAL EXPLORATION

  • You can play around with ordering and presentation of items in both Timeline JS and Storymap JS if you wish. Do they make you think about the chronology and spatial dimensions of the revival in new ways if you reorganize your data and re-represent it through these digital tools?

ESSAY

  • Finally, develop a short essay (1-3 paragraphs) that reflects on the experience of developing a timeline and related map to narrate the overarching narrative of the folk revival. You may want to write this post in a word-processing document and then paste it in to your post, or be sure to save as draft often in WordPress. Here are some prompts for your essay (you do not need to answer all of these questions, but rather use them to crystallize a particular argument using evidence from your experiments with timelines and maps. What was difficult? How did you choose certain names, dates? Using what you learned from the decisions you made for constructing your timeline, what observations do you now have about the history of the folk revival in the US? How should we characterize it, divide it into periods, choose significant events, figures, places, or other aspects to mark its overarching story? Does a cultural history such as this one look different or suggest different meanings when rendered on a timeline, or in the spatial representation of a map? History is time and space organized into meaning. What did this assignment make you think of this statement? True? False? If so how and in what ways?
  • Choose Category Assignment 02.
  • Be sure to tags (keywords) to your post.
  • Choose a featured image for your post.
  • Be sure to add a catchy title to your post.

Assignment 03: “Slow Down, You Move Too Fast”: Annotation and Database Building For Close Reading

The goal of this assignment is to use annotation and table building techniques to develop closer, more detailed, and compelling interpretations of specific documents and artifacts.

In short, can we use computers to enhance our analytic capacities not only because they speed up rote processes (something digital computation is quite good at), but also because we can use them to slow down our interpretive processes? Usually celebrations of the digital glorify its accelerations; we want to go faster! What if we also cultivate the computer’s ways of slowing things down? Can we harness computers not merely to think faster (and in an odd way to think less!), but also to think better, more perceptively? Can this slowdown improve our abilities to make compelling arguments about our evidence, our historical artifacts?

Since documents can be annotated—directly written “on”—without damaging them, there is an opportunity to “read” them more directly and hence more carefully when in digital formats. Moreover, since these annotations can then be lifted “off” the digital document in the form of a list, you can transfer them to a table. And since the table—a spreadsheet or database—is in many ways the building block of digital publishing, you can then begin to assemble your “data” (your annotations) into various orders, remixing them to consider different patterns that they might reveal, different suggestions of meaning. Once in table/spreadsheet/database form, you can also add metadata to entries that can then be ordered and reordered to explore missed connections or links as well as contrasts and comparisons.

All this annotating and database development potentially “sets the table,” as it were, for more convincing writing, more effective and compelling narrative interpretation of the past that is, as good historical scholarship should be, more closely grounded in the specific details of the documentary evidence.

READING

ASSIGNMENT

ANNOTATION:

  • Download one of our primary source readings thus far in class.
  • Open up the document in Adobe Acrobat Reader DC (available here for free download: https://get.adobe.com/reader/). You may use Adobe Acrobat Pro if you have a copy, or Apple Preview if you wish. But the instructions here are for Adobe Acrobat Reader DC.
  • Select the Comments feature from the View menu in Adobe Acrobat Pro or Reader, or select the Comments tool on the righthand sidebar (see screenshot below).
  • A bar should appear at the top of Adobe Acrobat that offers you various ways of creating comments: a comments box, highlighting text, drawing or writing on the document, creating text on the document, inserting an arrow, etc. (see screenshot below).
  • Make your annotations and markups. Begin by making observations and writing descriptions. Answer this deceptively simple question: what do you see? You might make between 5-10 annotations. You should use comment boxes primarily for your annotations. You might also experiment with drawing on the document, adding a text box, highlighting, attaching a file, making a sound clip if you are feeling adventurous. Feel free to explore what annotation can do for your close reading of an artifact. What kind of annotation method works for you?
  • Save your ANNOTATED PDF file with your last name and a title, something like “Kramer Lomax Folkniks Annotation.” You will eventually upload your annotated file to the Media Library in WordPress and embed it in your Assignment post.

EMBEDDING ANNOTATED PDF IN WORDPRESS POST:

  • Log in to WordPress and create a blank new post.
  • Select Add Media button and upload your Annotated PDF file.
  • The “Vanilla PDF Embed” should automatically display your PDFs using the URL for the attachment pages in your post on its own line. These should automatically be put in when you use the add media function. Or you can cut and paste the URL from the PDFs page in the Media Library.

CREATE A “SIGNIFICANCE” TABLE USING TABLEPRESS:

  • Open up your Annotation PDF.
  • You can now create a table (spreadsheet/database) into which you can cut and paste each comment and then add additional columns of information. To do so, return to your WordPress dashboard and on the lefthand sidebar select TablePress (below Comments).
  • Under the All Tables tab, scroll down to **COPY THIS TEMPLATE.**
  • When you scroll over the title, you will see a menu pop up below. Click on Copy on that menu.
  • Now you have your own Table, Give the Table a name that begins with your last name, as in “Kramer Cohen Annotation.” This is where you can cut and paste your annotations and add additional columns: Detail | Description | Significance | Additional Comments. Which is to say, here is where you can use the table to develop your close reading of it: how do you describe it, then what is its significance.
  • Once you have completed your table, save changes.

EMBEDDING YOUR “SIGNIFICANCE” TABLE IN WORDPRESS POST:

  • Once you have saved the changes for your table look to find the Shortcode box at the top of the table.
  • copy the shortcode [table id=<ID> /] and paste it into the corresponding place in your post editor, below your embedded PDF files. You can paste the code into the “Visual” tab for your blog post. Save draft. The table will appear in your TablePress section of the dashboard or in published post, but not in the WYSIWYG “Visual” tab window.
  • Now you can (finally!) write your essay. Use your table of annotations as a resource for inserting description and significance into your essay effectively.

ESSAY:

  • Once you have completed your annotations and table, use them to structure a short essay (500-1000 words) about the significance of the document you have investigated. Develop an argument, a thesis, and think about incorporating your annotations from the table directly into your essay (you need not use them word for word, but you might do so, or at least draw upon them directly for your essay). Be sure to save draft often or write your essay in a word-processing document and paste in to your post.
  • Select Category Assignment 03.
  • Select tags.
  • Add a featured image.
  • Add a catchy title.

Assignment 04: Podcasting the Past Experiments and Final Project Prospectus Draft

The goal of this assignment is to begin conceptualizing your final audio podcast project through experimentation and the development of a prospectus.

READING/LISTENING

ADDITIONAL SELECTED LISTENING (No need to listen to everything, just browse)

INSTRUCTIONS — PODCAST EXPERIMENTS

  • Use Garageband, Audacity, or the audio editing software of your choice to create a short audio clip (2-3 minutes). All clips should, at minimum, include:
  • at least one song
  • at least one sound effect
  • your voice discussing some aspect of the song (sound, lyrics, artist, context, etc.)
  • a fade in
  • a fade out
  • Once you have created and saved your audio analysis, upload the clip to the WordPress Media Library.
  • Embed it in your post.

INSTRUCTIONS — PROJECT PROSPECTUS DRAFT

  • Write a for your final research project prospectus in bullet point form.
    • What overarching historical question do you wish to ask?
    • What primary sources will you use to investigate this question?
    • What secondary sources do you plan to you use?
    • Why is this topic interesting? Why does it matter?
    • List any ideas for how to develop your interpretive narrative effectively in an audio format. How can you make this project captivating to a listening audience?
  • Choose category.
  • Add tags (keywords) to your post.
  • Add a featured image.
  • Add a catchy title.

Assignment 05: Podcasting the Past Prospectus Revisions and Draft Script Outline

The goal of this assignment is to continue to refine your prospectus by rephrasing your question, adding annotations to your primary and secondary source bibliographies on your prospectus, and developing a working script draft of your final audio podcast project.

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Revise your final research project prospectus in bullet point form.
    • What was your previous historical question? Rephrase it now based on your additional research in primary and secondary sources.
    • Annotate your updated list of primary sources with one-sentence descriptions about each source. What details are important and why? Feel free to use the tactics in assignment 03 on annotations and table building.
    • Annotate your updated list of secondary sources with one-sentence descriptions about each source. What is the argument of this secondary source? What evidence does it wield in service of this argument? With whom is this author in disagreement? What is the nature of the debate? Once again, feel free to use the tactics in assignment 03 on annotations and table building as you see fit for your annotated bibliography of secondary sources.
    • Why is this overarching topic interesting? Why does it matter? Can you articulate the significance of your project in a new way yet? Give it a shot.
    • List any ideas for how to develop your interpretive narrative effectively in an audio format. How can you make this project captivating to a listening audience?
  • Develop a draft outline of your podcast script. It need not be complete yet, and you can map out rough ideas and sequences with portions that have more details where you are able to fill them in to the script.
  • Choose category.
  • Add tags (keywords) to your post.
  • Add a featured image.
  • Add a catchy title. 

Final Project. Interpretive history audio podcast.

The final project in our course asks you to develop and produce an “interpretive digital history” audio podcast based on original research. What does this mean, exactly? The goal of the final assignment is to develop an argument grounded in careful description and analysis of primary source material that expresses an interpretation in relation to secondary sources (the “historiography,” or the debates other historians have had about a topic) and to do so in a compelling aural format that delivers your interpretative narrative with style and interest.

In a non-digital history class, you might develop this kind of project as an essay. In this course, we move to a digital platform and turn to audio form rather than written text (or a video podcast if you wish to explore that option, or an audio podcast and accompanying blog post of additional multimedia material is an option too). This shift of form will require that you shape your argument suitably to it. But the overall goal is the same: to scrutinize a set of primary sources carefully to tell us something new that we can understand about a topic from the folk revival in relation to the debates pursued by other historians, scholars, and folk participants.

Your audio or audio/visual or audio and blog post podcast project should be between 10-30 minutes. Consider how you might use audio effectively to make an argument and tell a story: how does “telling” an argument and a story based on evidence and in dialogue with previous interpretations differ from writing one? What kind of tone do you wish to strike with your spoken segments? How might you move among sounds, multiple voices, and sound effects to enhance the delivery of your findings? Do you have any musical audio you can use? How might you creatively translate non-sonic material into the audio format? Do you want to interview anyone, bring in more than just your voice, or adopt another strategy of creating interpretation and narrating the story of your topic? What other ways can you harness the power of the aural domain to offer a compelling historical interpretation of a topic in the cultural history of the twentieth-century US folk revival?

Your final project will include:

  • Audio podcast or audio-visual podcast or audio podcast with accompanying blog of supplementary material if necessary.
  • Script uploaded as an embedded pdf.
  • A one-paragraph reflection on the project: now that you have completed it (no small task, congratulations!), what has it made you consider about the objectives for this course (see above).
  • Choose category.
  • Add tags (keywords) to your post.
  • Add a featured image.
  • Add a catchy title.

Here are some ideas for interpretive history audio podcast final projects:

  • A study of one performer or participant in the folk revival.
  • A study of one song or set of songs, investigating and analyzing its history, circulation, music and text, and significance.
  • A study of a particular “roots” genre or boundaries between or among genres.
  • A study of an event, or aspect of an event.
  • A study of politics or some issue of cultural politics.
  • A study of change (and/or continuity) over time of a performer, event, or theme.
  • The notion of a folk “revival”—revival of what, exactly?
  • The concepts of authenticity, sincerity, irony, and other modalities or sensibilities and values of the folk revival.
  • Concepts of the audience and of participation in the folk revival.
  • Concepts of tradition in the folk revival.
  • Issues of race, gender, ethnicity, region, age, economics (capitalism), politics (socialism) as registered in specific source material and secondary debates.
  • Folk music as educational tool.
  • An exploration of the meaning of one artifact: a photograph, a document, an album cover, an instrument, a famous article, or some other source material and what it reveals about a larger theme in the cultural history of the twentieth-century US folk music revival.

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