Gospel Music in Modern America

Spring 2017
T 3:30pm - 5:20pm
Area V
MDIV Requirements: 
Permission Not Required
Limited Enrollment
Course Description: 

Gospel Music in Modern America is an undergraduate seminar that introduces students to the study of religion, African American culture, and popular music. To do so, more precisely, the course engages theoretical and historical questions associated with the emergence, evolution and boundaries of Gospel music from the early twentieth century up to the present moment. In addition to introducing students to the social contexts and cultural traditions associated with Gospel music’s evolution and expansion across the twentieth century, reading, discussions, and assignments are designed to facilitate debate and to theorize “Gospel” as, amongst other things, musical genre, aesthetic tradition, commercial product, cultural politics, racial performance, and religious discourse.

Background Expected: 

There are no prerequisites for the course, but prior coursework in American history, black music and popular culture, and religious studies is helpful.

Course Requirements: 
Class Participation (20%): Students are expected to arrive each week having completed assigned readings and prepared to make informed contributions to class discussions.
Weekly Reading Response Papers (10%): Over the course of the semester students are expected to write ten critical responses (< 1 page each) to weekly readings. Response papers should not summarize readings, but are instead an opportunity to raise and begin to wrestle with 2-3 questions that emerge from each week’s readings.
Book Review (20%): A gospel music bibliography will be made available during the first few weeks of the semester. Student must choose one book from the bibliography and write a review essay (3-4 double-spaced pages) to be turned in the week before Spring Break.
Final Paper (50%): During the first few weeks of class students will select a topic related to the themes of the course, conduct independent research on this topic and submit a paper (10-12 double-spaced pages*) at the end of the semester. [Final Paper is due one week after the final class of the semester]
*Graduate Students will write a longer final paper (18-20 double-spaced pages)
Basis of Evaluation: 
Guidelines: “H” defined by YDS as “exemplary,” is reserved for outstanding work (including both in-class performance and written assignments) that shows not only competence but also mastery: intelligent organization, vivid expression, clarity of argument, freshness and originality. “HP” work, defined as “good,” demonstrates that a student understands the material, has a grasp on the issues in an assignment, and has developed an interesting line of thought; written expression is good and soundly has met the expectations of the assignment. “LP” work is weak, in content as well as form, but still acceptable. It is also a warning that both a student’s work, as it stands, is far below where it should be. “F” indicates that the work cannot receive credit. 
Plus and minus grades indicate the quality of a student’s work in relation to others in the same letter category. Unexcused late work is not eligible for the grade of “H” and will receive no comments.