Below you will find a list of current course information for Southern Studies.

  • Fall 2020 Courses
  • B.A. Required Courses Checklist 
    ENG 741  Cultural Studies: The Blues Tradition
    Wednesday, 6:00-8:30 p.m.
    Adam Gussow, Professor of English

    This course will explore the way in which African American (and selected white American) writers have translated the oral culture and social milieu of blues musicians into a range of literary forms: poems, stories, novels, plays, interviews, autobiographies, and theoretical/prophetic writings. Since the blues tradition is grounded in what David Oshinsky has called “the ordeal of Jim Crow justice,” we’ll devote considerable attention to the way in which adverse social conditions in the early modern South—lynching, segregation, sharecropping, and other forms of racialized exploitation—are represented and contested in blues texts. We’ll cover a range of other themes: the tragicomic dialectic that underlies blues expressiveness; the shaping role played by various forms of interpersonal violence; “signifying” as a textual strategy; womanist self-assertion and the sounding of desire; the emergence of a mass white blues audience in the 1960s; contemporary blues performance and blues literature as scenes of interracial contact in which the legacy of Jim Crow is engaged in both productive and troubling ways. Subject to availability, a local blues musician may be invited to class to share stories and insights. Requirements include three short response papers, a term paper, and an oral presentation.