Required to write a 3 to 4 page paper that deepens one’s understanding of this era and the relationship between media, culture and protest. This paper is directly linked to one of your competencies and I ask that you link the spirit of the latter to some discussion involving the Minstrel era, the subject of Modules 2 through 4. Other students are expected to undertake a general investigation (i.e. one that is specific but not necessarily tied to one of the course competencies. Although you are invited to use the 4 competencies and their respective discussions below as ‘jumping off points’) of a phenomenon related to the Minstrel Era and tie this investigation to the course foci (media, culture and protest).
Your investigation must go ‘off the page.’ In other words, you should investigate sub-topics that are not addressed in the readings or visual materials. The subject of this first paper can be introduced in any one of the materials but not explained or discussed extensively. For instance, one can choose to write about Griffith’s novel cinematic techniques or the life of Bert Williams or Mom’s Mabley messaging. Or students can use the paper to investigate the Sorrow Songs or the Cakewalk and how each is tied to the course foci. The point is that this paper is not a re-statement of what the readings or materials have already covered but rather introduces new aspects or angles or even opposition to Minstrel imagery.
The paper must be based on readings other than what is required in sessions two through four. Each paper should reference a minimum of 3 sources.
For School for New Learning students, the questions by competence are as follows:
H-4 Students: This competence requires students to reflect on the development or emergence of unequal power relations between two groups in the United States and discuss this evolution in the context of history, sociology or economics. In the mid-term paper, discuss how southern leaders were able to manipulate or even circumvent the 14th and 15th amendments, how Minstrelsy, as a cultural movement, might have factored into this effort, and what impact their efforts had on race and power relations within the United States. I suggest that students first consult Bennett’s Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America.
A-3-X Students: In a 3 to 4 page paper, identify a social thinker during this movement and contextualize his or her contribution. Your paper should identify and describe an individual with philosophical, political or cultural ideas relevant to the Minstrel era, explain her or his ideas about the meaning of this experience, and articulate their contribution either to supporting this 19th century cultural movement or to opposing it. An appropriate social thinker must have been active during this period (1830-1910).
H-2-G Students: In the course of the last two modules, you have read about the component parts of Minstrelsy, the structure of its performances, how it evolved, how it subsumed and transformed ideas, who dominated these performances and how this changed over time. As the H-2-G competence discussion notes, Minstrelsy was a veritable ‘medium of mass communication’ delivering a specific message. Please use this opportunity to go deeper in your investigation of this phenomenon.
H-1-X Students: The H-1-X competence centers on the relationship between culture and protest. In the context of this era, discuss via a 3 to 4 page paper how one might connect the dots between these two phenomena. You can focus on the content of music – that associated with the Confederacy and the slave south (start with composer Stephen Foster maybe) – or examine the contributions of African-American songs (Sorrow Songs, Fisk Jubilee Singers, etc.) and how each impacted social protest or the lack thereof.
For more information on A History of Black America read this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African-American_history
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