Gospel Music in the Church and World

Fall 2017
W 1:30-3:20pm
Area V
MDIV Requirements: 
Permission Not Required
Limited Enrollment
Course Description: 

This seminar analyzes contemporary African American gospel music as it is currently implemented for liturgy, evangelism, and popular consumption. Beyond analysis of key musical and lyrical characteristics of gospel, this class gives attention to the religious and sociocultural contexts that inform gospel composition and performance. Black American gospel music is integrally connected, if not inextricably linked, to the liturgical and theological traditions of black American Pentecostals, Baptists, and Methodists. Consequently, this course is also a musical introduction to African American Christianity, and especially to African American Pentecostalism, which is the faith tradition that a majority of contemporary national gospel artists claim. Finally, the global resonances of this music are explored. Classes include interactive demonstrations in addition to discussion of audio/video recordings, other primary source material, and other required texts. Students also engage in participant observation of church services and music performances.

Background Expected: 

The student should have familiarity with Christianity.

Course Requirements: 
Attendance & Participation (20%):
Students are required to: attend all class sessions and group field trips; engage the assigned readings, listening, and videos; and prepare for and participate in class discussions and activities.
Weekly Response Podcasts. 90-seconds, each (20%):
Respond to any aspect of the reading and listening in a 90-second podcast to be reviewed by professor and classmates. Guidance for creating podcasts will be provided. When leading discussion, student should not submit a response podcast for that week. Lowest podcast score will be dropped.
Position Paper. 2-5 pages (10%):
Write a brief position paper addressing your connection, if any, to black church music traditions, your relationship to gospel music, and any critiques or issues that you have identified with the music.
Fieldtrip Response (1-2 pages) & Field Notes (2 pages minimum) (10%):
The class will observe a church service or gospel concert; date, time, and place to be determined. Students must submit a 1-2-page critical reflection and at least 2 pages of field notes. Guidelines for participant observation and field notes will be provided.
Discussion Leading and 5.5-minute Music Review Video (20%):
In groups of 2 or 3, Students will lead discussion of the assigned readings and music. Students leading discussion on the same day should coordinate amongst themselves (prior to class) to facilitate l hour of class time. In connection with discussion leading, the group should create a 5.5-minute video critically analyzing one particular contemporary gospel album (at least 10 tracks) related to assigned readings and music.
Interview Podcast (5.5-min. or 20-min.) (20%):
Create a podcast interviewing a local church music ministry leader (person responsible for programming the music or even planning liturgy for the services at the church). The purpose of this interview and podcast is to understand how the particular leader makes musical choices, and the challenges and rewards of the work. The interview should be accompanied by observing a worship service at the music minister’s church, and observing one rehearsal or planning meeting. The interview transcript and field notes should be submitted with the podcast. Churches and interviewees will be coordinated across the class to avoid duplicate interviewees/sites. The podcast is to be reviewed by professor and classmates. Undergraduate students’ podcasts should be 5.5 minutes; graduate students’ podcasts should be 20 minutes.
Basis of Evaluation: 

Regular grading is the default method for evaluation. Students may choose to switch to credit/non-credit at the beginning of the term.