Social Justice, Advocacy and Music

This seminar examines the role of music in movements for social change and considers models of advocacy carried out through scholarship, research and educational programming. First we will examine case studies such as the role of music in the civil rights movement in the United States, the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, the promotion of fair trade and interfaith cooperation in Uganda and in struggles of resistance and the promotion of peace between Palestinians and Israelis. The course will then consider a range of advocacy and social justice projects that ethnomusicologists have developed when they come to see themselves as "partners in a common cause" (Titon, 2003) with members of the communities in which they conduct research. Many ethnomusicologists have made the decision that the role of scholar and the role of advocate are not mutually exclusive. However, the success of advocacy projects depends on a thoughtful negotiation between these roles. To come to a deeper understanding of effective advocacy work, we will study the CASES methodology for developing successful social justice initiatives: community partnerships, advocacy/activism, direct service, education, and sustainability.

Technology and Jewish Oral Tradition
Judaic Studies and the Department of Music

Every week, in Jewish congregations throughout the world, scriptural text is chanted in the synagogue in a ritual that dramatically re-enacts the revelation of the Law on Mount Sinai. In many congregations, across denominational lines, busy lay congregants spend hours every week preparing to "read Torah" at Sabbath services. Many understand this performance of sacred text as a way to position themselves at the core of authentic religious experience. Increasingly, these oral traditions are not learned through face to face interaction with cantors, rabbis or other teachers but from computer programs such as "Haftutor," "CyberTropes," or "Navigating the Bible." As students learn how to lead prayer from computers and download their Torah readings onto their iPods, the locus of instruction, review and practice has transitioned from the synagogue and study hall to their car, the elliptical machine in their gym and the subway during their daily commute. In this course, we examine the nature of oral tradition and its customary transmission. We consider why certain men and women increasingly see the performance of text as a key to authentic religious expression and how the application of new technology is changing the transmission, performance and understanding of these sacred oral traditions. Finally, we broaden our view and examine how technology is changing the worship experience of Christians and Muslims in the 21st century.

Music and Prayer in the Jewish Tradition
Judaic Studies and the Department of Music

This course will examine the role and function of music in Jewish worship. We begin with an introduction to the Hebrew text of the liturgy (in translation) and its historical development from the Temple Service in Jerusalem. The course will focus on the Kabbalat Shabbat (Friday evening) service as developed by the Kabbalists in Safed, Israel. Moving to a consideration of contemporary Jewish communities, we will consider the ways that music is used strategically in prayer as worshippers define, present and maintain their religious and cultural identity. We consider such topics as participation vs. performance in worship, music and historical authenticity in prayer, music and religious experience, the invention and preservation of tradition, the role of music in Jewish celebrations and how music is used to negotiate issues of dual culturalism in the Jewish community.

Seminar in Ethnomusicology (Fieldwork)
Department of Music

In this seminar, we will address a range of theoretical and practical issues encountered in ethnographic fieldwork: defining the field, preparing for fieldwork, locating people to study, participant observation, the use of field notes and a fieldwork journal. We will consider the psychological and emotional aspects of fieldwork and the strategic negotiation of our relationships in the field. We will learn how to conceptualize, conduct and transcribe ethnographic interviews and pay special attention to the process of writing from interview transcriptions. We will address field recording equipment, technology and practice and consider various approaches to transcribing music and text. Practical skills will be developed in the course of an assigned fieldwork project. Teaching skills will be developed as participants lead seminar discussions on assigned articles.

Introduction to the Talmud
Judiac Studies Program, Department of German, Russian, and Asian Languages and Literature

We will study selected passages from the Talmud in English and examine how rabbinical literature (Mishna, Gemara, and commentaries) developed from the text of the Hebrew Bible. We will concentrate on passages that have relevance to contemporary moral and ethical issues such as responsibilities between parents and children, the value of human life, business ethics and Jewish medical ethics. No prerequisites.