Ragtime pianist Tony Jackson. Jackson was an influential and virtuosic performer in New Orleans and Chicago in the early twentieth century.
Ragtime pianist Tony Jackson. Jackson was an influential and virtuosic performer in New Orleans and Chicago in the early twentieth century.
Courses We’d Love To Take

Music 360: Music and the Black Freedom Struggle with Prof. Mark Burford

September 11, 2020

Reed offers some of the most intense and intellectually stimulating undergrad courses of any college in the nation. In 2018, the college launched its interdisciplinary program in comparative race and ethnicity studies (CRES). Prof. Mark Burford's popular course, Music and the Black Freedom Struggle 1865–1945 (cross-listed in the catalog as Music 360, History 390, and Comparative Race and Ethnicity Studies 359), is now offered in Reed's CRES program, and is one of the many courses we’d like to take. 

The civil rights movement in the United States, demanding full citizenship for African Americans, is most commonly associated with the momentous sociopolitical developments of the 1950s and 1960s. Increasingly, scholars have situated this “classical” period of the movement within a broader historical arc encompassing an ongoing “black freedom struggle” that dates to Reconstruction. Over the course of this century of struggle and resistance, music has continuously been a terrain on which U.S. citizens conceptualized, articulated, and negotiated the terms of an equitable society. Through close study of primary and secondary historical texts and musical repertory that will include the spiritual, jazz, and concert music, this course will explore ways in which ideas about musical sound and musical performance, from the end of the Civil War to the beginning of World War II, articulated the stakes of the black freedom struggle and the meanings of freedom. 

Readings include:

  • Henry Louis Gates Jr., Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow (New York: Penguin Press, 2019)
  • James Weldon Johnson, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (Boston: Sherman, French & Co., 1912)
  • Karen Sotiropoulos, Staging Race: Black Performers in Turn of the Century America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006)

Prof. Mark Burford is an expert on twentieth-century popular music in the United States, focusing on African American music after World War II. He teaches courses in music history, opera, blues, gospel, and pop. His recent book, Mahalia Jackson and the Black Gospel Field was released in 2019 by Oxford University Press. 

 

Tags: Academics, Courses We’d Love To Take, Diversity/Inclusion, Performing Arts