ENGLISH 372, STUDIES IN POPULAR CULTURE:
    MUSIC, PROTEST, AND RESISTANCE

    TUESDAYS, 7-9:45 PM, HHH 230
    FALL 2008, UWEC


    PROFESSOR BOB NOWLAN

Office: HHH 425 Office Phone: (715) 836-4369
ranowlan@uwec.edu
http://people.uwec.edu/ranowlan

Office Hours: T 2:40-4:30 and 9:50-10:30 pm, W 2:40-3:30 pm, and By Appointment


COURSE EXPLANATION


    
    English 372, Studies in Popular Culture: Music, Protest, and Resistance explores how popular music, musicians, musical forms, musical styles, and musical movements contribute, have contributed, and can contribute to progressive social and political protest, struggle, resistance, rebellion, revolt, and transformation.  The course focuses primarily on music and culture in the 20th and 21st centuries.  


    One immediate inspiration for this course is my weekly radio show, Insurgence, which I host under my dj name, Sean Murphy, every Thursday from 10 pm to midnight on WHYS Community Radio, 96.3 FM Eau Claire.  This show maintains a somewhat broader focus, though:  progressive music of protest, struggle, resistance, rebellion, revolt, and transformation, mixed together with selections of primarily alt pop, indie rock, electronic dance, experimental noise, avant-queer, post-rock, Irish and Celtic, global fusion, and hard-edge left punk, post-punk, and hip hop.  


    Another immediate inspiration is my work on a long-term research, scholarly, and creative project: compilation of a critical bibliography of progressive music of protest, struggle, resistance, rebellion, revolt, and transformation.   I aim to develop this as an ongoing project which will be useful to a broad range of progressives, and plan to make this available through a website which I will continue to maintain and update rather than merely publish in a printed book form.  I aim to be broadly inclusive here, drawing from diverse kinds of progressive music, past and present, from across the globe.  I am seeking music that can contribute to a continuous progressive culture of protest, struggle, resistance, rebellion, revolt, and transformation as a significant dimension of, and inspiration for, ongoing struggles for human emancipation, collective equality, social justice, ecological sustainability, and a peaceful world.  I plan to organize this bibliography into a wide variety of categories, with multiple different cross-links, to facilitate further usefulness.  And I will structure the bibliography in terms of playlists, following my work as a dj, and associated with my radio show, Insurgence.   In the playlists, as well as the annotations, I seek to develop and post on this website, I aim to draw connections, as well as to take into account contestations, over how to conceive of and approach broadly shared progressive goals.   I began the background work for this project while on a year-long sabbatical during the 2006-2007 academic year, but quickly realized this is a highly ambitious project that will require plenty of time, and effort, to realize–as well as a significant amount of collaborative assistance.   I welcome students taking this course, if you find yourself so compelled, to join me, subsequent to our work together in this course, as collaborators on this long-term project.  And I welcome students working with me on this project as part of independent or directed study courses, capstone projects, UWEC student-faculty collaborative grant-supported projects, Student Research Day poster presentations, and, potentially, supported by external grants and for external conference presentations.   


    But let’s get back to this course, here and now.  We will begin by focusing on “culture” more broadly, including but extending beyond music alone, as a site of progressive protest and resistance.   Here we will seek to extract critical concepts that can enable us to pursue our exploration of music as site of progressive protest and resistance in a theoretically rigorous fashion while situating this exploration in a wider set of enabling contexts as well as linking it up with a history of usefully related movements for progressive social and political change.  After this initial focus, we will turn to examine music more directly, first, in relation to–and as–politics, in general, and, then, second, as direct agent or vehicle of progressive protest, struggle, resistance, rebellion, revolt, and transformation.  Throughout the course, but particularly in the latter sections, you will be contributing substantially to leading us forward in coming up with useful insights, reflections, perspectives, arguments, and critiques.   I expect that many, if not most, if not in fact all of you maintain significant knowledge, and experience, working with music (including in relation to social and political change) that will prove useful to our collective work, and we will definitely draw extensively upon this.


    I will conclude this introductory course explanation statement though by offering you a few relevant comments of my own, that I hope will provide us with helpful frameworks at least within which to get started in the course of our collective inquiry.  Let’s begin with the question, ‘why music?’   In short, my answer is as follows.   Music exercises immense power:


1.)  The power not only to express and communicate but also, and ultimately much more than this, to literally embody our aspirations for a better world and for a better relationship with the larger world, with each other, and with ourselves.

2.)  The power to reflect, to remember, to witness, to testify, to recreate, to imagine, to fantasize, to question, to challenge, to critique, to protest, to incite, and to inspire.

3.) The power to constitute a preeminent mode of collective knowing, feeling, believing, and understanding.  

4.) The power to serve as indispensable means and medium of experience and engagement with life’s vitality.   

5.) The power to help us grasp the essence of our being–in motion and interconnection.

As I experience it, music may not be capable, in and of itself, of changing the world for the better (and then again it may, at least at times, be so capable), but it certainly seems eminently capable of encouraging us, inspiring us, and provoking us to work and struggle to do so.  Music can do all of the things that Stephen Duncombe, the editor of the first book we will be working with this semester, Cultural Resistance Reader, identifies “culture” as capable of doing: forge community, create a micro-world which functions according to different principles than the macro-world which surrounds it, provide a “free space” or “temporary autonomous zone” for developing alternative conceptions and practices, create a language for making critical sense of our experiences and relations, offer a haven or a refuge from alienation and oppression, articulate and propel a critique of existing institutions and practices, appropriate from and rewrite elements of the status quo in subversive directions, and incite action which can bring about material change.   All of that–and more.  


    But what about “progressive”?  Of course different “progressives” do maintain a range of definitions of this term, but, again to get us started and to give us a point of departure, I’ll explain what I, at least, understand “progressive” to mean, in myself working with music, with film, and with other forms of cultural production as means, and media, for progressive social and political change.  As I see it, progressive believe the following:

1.)  Progressives believe that we are all ultimately deeply interconnected,  that the public good should always come before private gain, that we should work together to take care of each other, that we should work together to make a better future for those who come after us, and that we have a responsibility to do so for those who will succeed us.  Progressives fight against forces and interests which contend or act otherwise.
 
2.)  Progressives  believe we maintain a responsibility to serve as genuine stewards in relation to our larger natural environment while progressives at the same time respect and value the ‘wisdom’ of nature as well as all the ‘wisdom’ of what nature has created and provided.  Progressives fight against forces and interests which contend or act otherwise.

3. ) Progressives respect and value the wisdom of genuinely popular, or folk, cultures, subcultures, and their customs and traditions as well as their achievements and contributions; progressives support and defend the right of the oppressed and exploited to fight back against their exploiters and oppressors; and progressives seek to assist the relatively disprivileged and disempowered in raising themselves up through their own efforts.  Progressives fight against forces and interests which contend or act otherwise.

4. ) Progressives believe in genuine, substantive, materially concrete expression of fairness and  equality for all, and progressives sincerely, actively care for those who are relatively disprivileged and disempowered.  Progressives fight against forces and interests which contend or act otherwise.

5. )  Progressives believe in working actively to overcome exploitative and oppressive disparities in social wealth, social privilege, and social power.  Progressives fight against forces and interests which contend or act otherwise.
 
6. ) Progressives believe in the inherent dignity, worth, and natural equality of all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, or nationality.  Progressives fight against forces and interests which contend or act otherwise.

7. )  Progressives believe in the inherent dignity, worth, and natural equality of all people, regardless of sex or gender.  Progressives fight against forces and interests which contend or act otherwise.

8. )  Progressives believe in the inherent dignity, worth, and natural equality of all people, regardless of sexual orientation.  Progressives fight against forces and interests which contend or act otherwise.

9. )  Progressives believe in the inherent dignity, worth, and natural equality of all people, regardless of age or of physical and mental ability.  Progressives fight against forces and interests which contend or act otherwise.

10. )  Progressives respect and value the contribution of labor, and of laborers, in producing and reproducing social wealth; progressives reject, oppose, and seek to overcome exploitative and oppressive forms of class difference, and hierarchy, especially that realized through the exploitation of labor, and the private ownership and control of the means, processes, and ends of social wealth; and progressives are ultimately, in essence, anti-capitalist and pro-socialist as well as pro-communist (small s socialist, and small c communist).   Progressives fight against forces and interests which contend or act otherwise.

11.)  Progressives believe in social responsibility and accountability–and especially in holding those who exploit, and oppress, as well as those who maintain complicity with exploitation and oppression responsible, and accountable, for this wrong, while progressives simultaneously believe in active civic participation, in citizens taking responsibility for our own government, for governing ourselves, and for making government truly the people’s servant and truly serve the people’s interest.   Progressives fight against forces and interests which contend or act otherwise.

12. ) Progressives believe that genuine community requires that everyone within the community enjoy the freedom to realize their full human potential, and progressives believe that realization of our full human potential as members of a genuine community is in fact only possible for each and every one of us when freedoms can actually be exercised and opportunities are in fact available.  Progressives fight against forces and interests which contend or act otherwise.
 
13. ) Progressives fight against social alienation, and especially against the forces and conditions which generate this alienation, while progressives at the same time reject, oppose, and seek to overcome cynicism, apathy, disengagement, and despair.  Progressives fight against forces and interests which contend or act otherwise.      

14. ) Progressives reject, oppose, and seek to overcome selfish individualism, and progressives reject, oppose, and seek to overcome the commercial cooptation of human culture and the commoditization of human social relations.   Progressives fight against forces and interests which contend or act otherwise.
 
15. ) Progressives reject, oppose, and seek to overcome reification and compartmenalization in thought and action, and progressives likewise reject, oppose, and seek to overcome desensitization, callous indifference and lack of concern for others, as well as processes of ‘othering', and especially ‘abjectification’, in general.   Progressives fight against forces and interests which contend or act otherwise.

16. ) Progressives strongly oppose militarism and imperialism– economic, political, and cultural.  Progressives fight against forces and interests which contend or act otherwise.
 
17. ) Progressives strongly oppose fascism, neo-fascism, proto-fascism, and post-fascism, in all varieties, as well as all other forms of genuine totalitarianism.  Progressives fight against forces and interests which contend or act otherwise.

18. ) Progressives commit themselves toward working actively to advance the causes of human emancipation, collective equality, social justice, ecological sustainability, and a peaceful world.  Progressives fight against forces and interests which contend or act otherwise.
 
19. ) Progressives believe that real social progress ultimately requires real social transformation–and not mere social reformation.  Progressives fight against forces and interests which contend or act otherwise.
 
20. ) Progressives believe in the value, and indeed necessity, of forceful, creative, determined, persistent, and even at times relentless engagement in questioning, challenging, critiquing, resisting, rebelling, and revolting versus established power and authority in order to advance progressive ends and serve progressive interests.


    Now, of course, different progressives will disagree somewhat, here and there, with one or more of these points, or with the ways that I have articulated some of them, but, in general I am confident this overall articulation of “what progressives believe” not only usefully but also accurately distinguishes “progressive” from other positions with which it is frequently conflated, such as “liberal.”   And I am also confident my articulation provides a broad enough umbrella to embrace a considerable range of disparate progressive positions.  If anything, I believe the greater differences among progressives come not so much over these kind of fundamental, or ultimate, values, but rather over how precisely, concretely to represent them in practice.  And that area of difference is definitely something we will explore together as the semester proceeds–along with many other differences among progressives as well many areas in which progressives of different stripes maintain significant commonalities.   


    So that’s my introduction to this course, in a nutshell.  I’m excited about it.  It’s an entirely new course, and it’s certainly a kind of course which we haven’t yet offered much at all to date here at UWEC.  I hope you too will become excited as we move forward together.   And, as a final comment: you don’t need to identify personally as progressive to do well in this course; all you need is to be sincerely interested in how music has, does, and can contribute to progressive social change.          
 
 
    TEXTS


    The following required books are available for purchase at the UWEC Bookstore:

1.    Duncombe, Stephen, ed.  Cultural Resistance Reader.   New York: Verso, 2002.   ISBN#: 1-85984-379-4.

2.    Brown, Courtney.  Politics in Music: Music and Political Transformation from Beethoven to Hip-Hop.  Atlanta: Farsight, 2008.  ISBN#: 0-9766762-3-0.

3.    Sakolsky, Ron and Fred Wei-Han Ho, eds.  Sounding Off! – Music as Subversion/Resistance/Revolution.   Brooklyn: Autonomedia, 1995.  ISBN#: 1-57027-058-9.

4.    Spencer, Amy.  DIY: The Rise of Lo-Fi Culture.  New York: Marion Boyars, 2005.  ISBN#: 0-7145-3105-7.    


    You may feel free to purchase these from any other bookstore or book outlet, including by means of on-line ordering outlets (such as http://www.amazon.com) as you wish, as long as you do acquire them in time to use in and for class.


    I will bring music–primarily in the form of CDs and MP3 files–to class, related to our readings, for us to listen to and discuss in class.  You will also do so from time to time, especially as part of conducting your group projects.  In addition, I will also periodically post MP3 copies of music related to issues we have discussed on Desire2Learn so that you can listen to these beyond class as you engage in further reflection on what you make of positions, concepts, and arguments we have addressed in class.     


    SCHEDULE

T 9/2.   Introduction and Orientation.

Unit One

T  9/9.  Discussion, Issues Sparked from Readings, Cultural Resistance Reader.  Select Illustrations and Extrapolations–Sample Music and Other Texts.

    Read for Class, T 9/9: Cultural Resistance Reader: “Introduction,” “Unit One: Cultural Resistance” (Hill), and “Unit Two: The Politics of Culture” (Williams, Marx and Engels, Arnold, Gramsci, and Benjamin), 1-81.

T 9/16.  Discussion, Issues Sparked from Readings, Cultural Resistance Reader.  Select Illustrations and Extrapolations–Sample Music and Other Texts.

    Read for Class, T 9/16: Cultural Resistance Reader: “Unit Three: A Politics That Doesn’t Look Like Politics” (Bakhtin, Scott, Kelley, Reed, Baudrillard, Bey, Reynolds, and “Huge Mob Tortures Negro”), 82-134.
    
T 9/23.  Discussion, Issues Sparked from Readings, Cultural Resistance Reader.  Select Illustrations and Extrapolations–Sample Music and Other Texts.

    Read for Class, T 9/23: Cultural Resistance Reader: “Unit Four: Subcultures and Primitive Rebels” (Hobsbawm, Kelley, Cosgrove, Hebdige, Clarke, Riot Grrrl, Hanna, Brecht, and Hall), 135-192.

T 9/30.  Discussion, Issues Sparked from Readings, Cultural Resistance Reader.  Select Illustrations and Extrapolations–Sample Music and Other Texts.

    Read for Class, T 9/30: Cultural Resistance Reader: Selections from “Unit Five: Dismantling the Master’s House” (Eastman, Gandhi, Levine, and Lipsitz), 193-205 and 215-239, as well as Selections from “Unit Six: A Woman’s Place” (Woolf, Radicalesbians, Railla, and Radway), 240-267.

    * First Learning and Contribution Reflection Paper Assigned. *

T 10/7.  Discussion, Issues Sparked from Readings, Cultural Resistance Reader.  Select Illustrations and Extrapolations–Sample Music and Other Texts.

    Read for Class, T 10/7: Cultural Resistance Reader: Selections from “Unit Seven: Commodities, Co-Optation, and Culture Jamming” (Adorno and Frank), 275-303 and 316-327, as well as “Unit Eight: Mixing Pop and Politics” (Epstein, Jordan, Grote, Boyd, and Dominguez), 333-396.  

    
Unit Two

T 10/14.  First Group Project.  Discussion, Issues Sparked from Readings, Politics in Music.  Select Illustrations and Extrapolations–Sample Music and Other Texts.

    Read for Class, T 10/14: Politics in Music, 1-110 (“Music as a Conveyer of Political Messages,” “Beethoven,” “Political Manifesto Music: The Cases of Bob Marley and Richard Wagner,” and “Nationalist and Patriotic Music”).

    *  F 10/17: First Learning and Contribution Reflection Paper Due, by 12 noon in my English Department Mailbox, HHH 405. *

T 10/21.  Second Group Project.  Discussion, Issues Sparked from Readings, Politics in Music.  Select Illustrations and Extrapolations–Sample Music and Other Texts.

    Read for Class, T 10/21: Politics in Music, 111-220 (“Industrialization and the Emergence of Labor Music,” “Protest Music: Movement and Non-Movement Motivations,” “Politics and Hip-Hop,” and “Political Music and the Transformation of Civilization”).

T 10/28.  Third Group Project.  Discussion, Issues Sparked from Readings, Sounding Off!.  Select Illustrations and Extrapolations–Sample Music and Other Texts.

    Read for Class, T 10/28: Sounding Off!, 13-143 (“Part I: Theorizing Music and Social Change”).

T 11/4.  Fourth Group Project.  Discussion,  Issues Sparked from Readings, Sounding Off!.  Select Illustrations and Extrapolations–Sample Music and Other Texts.

    Read for Class, T 11/4: Sounding Off!, 147-233 (“Part II: In the Belly of the Beast”).

T 11/11.  Fifth Group Project.  Discussion, Issues Sparked from Readings,  Sounding Off!.  Select Illustrations and Extrapolations–Sample Music and Other Texts.

    Read for Class, T 11/11: Sounding Off!, 237-344 (“Part III: Shattering the Silence of the New World Order”).

T 11/18.  Sixth Group Project.  Discussion, Issues Sparked from Readings, DIY.  Select Illustrations and Extrapolations–Sample Music and Other Texts.

    Read for Class, T 11/18: DIY, 11-93 (“Introduction” and “Part I: The Zine Revolution”).

T 11/25.  Seventh Group Project.  Discussion, Issues Sparked from Readings, DIY.  Select Illustrations and Extrapolations–Sample Music and Other Texts.

    Read for Class, T 11/25: DIY, 94-218 (“Part II: The History of DIY Publishing”).

    * Second Learning and Contribution Reflection Paper Assigned. *

T 12/2.  Eighth Group Project.  Discussion, Issues Sparked from Readings, DIY.  Select Illustrations and Extrapolations–Sample Music and Other Texts.

    Read for Class, T 12/2: DIY, 219-369 (“Part III: The Rise of Lo-Fi Music”).

T 12/9.  Concluding Class Discussion.  Focus to be announced.


    * F 12/12: Second Learning and Contribution Reflection Paper Due, by 12 noon in my English Department Mailbox, HHH 405. *


    ** We will not be meeting in class during Final Exams Week.  We will have a party at my house instead. **


    *** THIS SCHEDULE IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE. ***



    ORGANIZATION AND CONDUCT OF CLASS SESSIONS

    This is a discussion class.  I may make some brief presentations from time to time, as useful, but if I feel I need to present any material to you at length, I’ll post it on Desire2Learn or the Student-Faculty Shared–the W–Drive, for you to read outside of class (or I’ll include it with an e-mail message to you).   As a discussion class, the success of what we do together depends upon your input as much as it does mine.  I’ll work to devise structures to facilitate–and I’ll direct–discussion, but you will have plenty of room to make this class your own.   And I want you to do so.   Also, during weeks seven through fourteen groups of students, working on their respective group projects, will be responsible for leading class discussion.   Finally, we will either take short breaks approximately half-way through the class period, or allow people while working in groups to take them as they need them.  


    GOALS OF THE BACCALAUREATE

    These are the five most important, official goals all UWEC undergraduate courses are designed to help you meet:

1.    Knowledge of Human Culture and the Natural World

2.    Creative and Critical Thinking

3.    Effective Communication

4.    Individual and Social Responsibility

5.    Respect for Diversity Among People

These goals require your striving to meet them.  Striving means learning actively and deliberately, completing assignments in a thorough and timely fashion, participating in class discussion, and making connections between what we do while meeting in class and what you do when engaged outside of the classroom.  And while I’m mentioning university goals, I’ll also just throw in here that we are all now committed toward working to realize the ‘Centennial [Strategic] Plan’ according to which UWEC aims to become “the premier undergraduate community in the Upper Midwest, noted for rigorous, integrated, globally-infused  liberal education and distinctive select graduate programs.”  The UWEC administration expects us all to strive toward making this happen, from here on, and that includes students, staff, and faculty.


    GENERAL EXPECTATIONS OF STUDENTS

      I expect students in this course to strive to become sincerely interested in learning about the subject matter of this course, and to be consistently intellectually serious as well as academically diligent in their pursuit of this learning.  I expect students to strive to bring actively and extensively to bear--in your essays and contributions to class discussion--insights you gain through your engagement with the texts and topics addressed as part of this course, and I expect you to strive at the same time to relate these texts and topics as closely and as fully as possible to subjects of genuine interest and concern in your own lives.  Finally, I expect students to let me know right away when and if you have any questions or problems about any aspect of how you are doing in and with the course, so that I can do whatever I possibly can to help answer these questions and solve these problems.


    In addition, I expect students to recognize that the higher educational academy is not a "safe space" separate from the rest of the "real world" where you can expect to be sheltered from encountering anything you might ever find in any way disagreeable or objectionable.  After all, disturbing positions and practices exist extensively outside of the classroom as well as in what we read, see, hear, and otherwise confront in and for class; what we confront in class exists in this institutional space as symptomatic of positions and practices that operate beyond the confines of the classroom, the course, and the university.  If and when you find any text or topic we confront genuinely upsetting, you maintain the ethical responsibility, as a mature adult and as a responsible citizen, not simply to try to hide from it (by claiming exemption from having to read or write or listen or talk about it) but rather to work to critique what upsets you in an intellectually serious, responsible, and mature adult manner.  Students should expect therefore that you may well on occasion encounter representations that you will find troubling, in this UWEC course and in many others as well; within this Department you will receive no right of exemption from engaging with these and absolutely no welcome for simply complaining (especially to a higher administrative authority) about their inclusion.  Instead you should bring your objections forthrightly to bear in your contributions to class discussion.  


    Finally, students also need to respect the fact that a professor differs from a high school teacher in many ways, but one key difference is that we maintain a principal professional, ethical responsibility forthrightly to represent the most advanced knowledges in our fields of expertise and to proceed from there to work toward their further development and dissemination.  In short, we must create, advocate for, and profess these knowledges; you should expect that your professors may from time to time take strong and indeed controversial positions on difficult and challenging issues, eschewing the pretense of disinterested neutrality.  To do anything less than assume this responsibility would be to shirk our professorial responsibility and to render ourselves unworthy of maintaining our professorial position.
 

    SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS FOR COURSE GRADE

Attendance


    Since this is a class that depends so vitally on your persistent, active contribution you need to be there.  And since we meet only once a week, an absence from even one class is big.  So do your best to come always–unless you absolutely must miss for some truly serious reason.  And if that’s the case, let me know ahead of time.  In addition, attendance means coming to class on time, staying through the end, and focusing on what we are about as a class.  Of course, childishly distracting behavior will count against you as this suggests you are not focused on learning and contributing.  This behavior includes things like holding private conversations, text messaging, doing other reading or other work–while class is going on–and it also includes things like sleeping, and persistently looking out the window or door or up at the clock.  Since this is an upper 300 level class, and people enrolled in it are experienced university students, I expect I don’t need to write anything more to clue you in on what kinds of behavior counts as childish.  In short, don’t do it; it’s not hard to avoid–not at all.

Learning and Contribution

    My foremost aim in teaching this course is to help you learn something of significance and value.  I will judge you to a significant degree on what you learn, how–and how hard–you strive to learn, and on how–as well as how well–you contribute to learning for the rest of the class.


    You cannot learn or help others learn if you do not contribute.  If you don't contribute to the work of this class not only will you fail to derive as much gain from it as would be the case if you did contribute, but also you will deprive everyone else of the benefit of your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, values, knowledge, and experience.


    Although class participation is not identical with contribution to learning, the former is an important component of the latter.  Class participation represents a place to learn, not just a place in which to demonstrate what you have learned.  By raising questions, testing and trying out ideas, taking risks and making mistakes, you learn a great deal–and help others learn a great deal as well.  You learn through talking, not just talk to show what you have learned.   Don't hesitate to speak forth in class if you have anything at all to throw into the mix.


     At the same time, just talking a great deal does not necessarily mean that you are making a quality contribution to the class by aiding the learning that we aim to accomplish.  Quality of participation is much more important than quantity, although a sufficient quantity is necessary to insure quality.  Still, I want to emphasize here that I perceive talking for talking’s sake, especially talking which pulls us off on far-fetched tangents, which remains disconnected from and disengaged with the reading and the rest of the class, or which effectively silences others, to be negative participation.


    Quality class participation does not, moreover, involve merely asking questions of me and responding to my questions; quality class participation requires you to work as assiduously as you can to advance a serious and substantial discussion with your peers as well as with me about the texts and topics subject to discussion.  Students should, therefore, be prepared to engage with and respond to each other in class discussion, and I will take note of how well you do so.
    

    Contribution to the class certainly can extend far beyond mere speaking in class: it may include a variety of ways in which you can bring to bear your insights to help yourself as well as the rest of us gain from the experience of this course.  At the same time, listening carefully, respectfully, and thoughtfully in class discussions is an important contribution to class as well.  I do recognize that quality contribution extends considerably beyond speaking frequently in class.  And I also certainly recognize that talking just for the sake of talking is not quality contribution.
    

    Learning and contribution will constitute a substantial proportion of your overall course grade.  A significant component of this will involve you writing two learning and contribution reflection papers.
    

    These papers provide you a useful opportunity to demonstrate how you are doing with the course.  Not only will you engage with texts, issues, positions, concepts, and arguments you will have read for–and we will have discussed in–class, as well as relevant music (including of your own choice) but also you will thoughtfully reflect on your own individual learning and contribution.  As you are assessing your own learning and contribution, you may include thoughts in reaction to issues raised in class discussion that you did not have the opportunity or did not feel comfortable enough to share in class; these additional reflections will help me get a better sense of what you have been thinking about and how you have been responding to class discussions, as well as to the course readings.  I will take into account what you write in determining your learning and contribution grade for the preceding semester period; performance on these papers in fact represents the major component of your learning and contribution grade.


     I will provide you specific directions in the assignments I give you for each of these papers; please note well that the questions I ask you to address will change from reflection paper to reflection paper.


     The first learning and contribution grade (including the first learning and contribution reflection paper) will be worth 30% of the overall course grade, and the second learning and contribution paper (including the second learning and contribution reflection paper) will also be worth (an additional) 30% of the overall course grade.   
 
 
Group Project

    Each student will participate in working on one group project.  Your task will be to lead our discussion of the texts and topics assigned for that week.   You will have the opportunity to cast this presentation in a way that you determine makes the best sense and works the best for you and for the class.  You will have the opportunity here to bring to bear selected music–and other visual, audio, and audio-visual texts–that you yourself choose and find useful and relevant.  But at the same time your goal will be to help the class extrapolate the key positions, concepts, and arguments from the assigned readings for the week you’ll be doing your project–as well as to help the class understand and appreciate their most important and far-reaching implications.  


    Each group will meet with me in conference twice prior to the class for which you’ll be responsible.  The first time we will discuss the readings for that week, and make sure you have a firm, confident grasp on what they mean.  At this point we will also talk about initial ideas for how you might organize the class.  The second time we meet you will come ready to discuss with me your provisional plan for what to do, how so, and why so in class–and at that time I will offer you suggestions and recommendations for strengthening and improving it.  I will gladly recommend specific music to play in conjunction with specific readings, as well as help you obtain copies of this as need be.  I’ve got a lot that I can draw upon–and that you can too.


    You will sign up for these group projects early in the semester so you can get started on them as soon as possible.  The more you do ahead of time, and the more carefully you do it, the easier it will be once the time comes to meet with me and start detailed planning for the class.


    You will be responsible for leading the class for the entire 2 hours and 45 minutes, but I will help you throughout that time.  That may seem daunting, but in the past student groups have tended to find it’s far more challenging to fit everything they want to do within that time than to scramble to have to fill it.  So, you need to be well-organized–and I’ll help you with that.


    Besides working with a group of peers to take charge of one class period’s discussion, you will write a short reflection paper after your class has ended–due the following week in class.  In this paper you will reflect on how things went, and how you and others did.   I will give you specific instructions for what to focus on in this paper.  


    In addition, for each other group’s class project, you will write a short reflection paper too, reflecting on the learning experience.  And, once again, I will give you specific instructions for what to focus on in these papers.


    Your grade for how you do in preparing and conducting the class for which you are responsible will be worth 20% of the overall course grade.  If clear differences in preparation and performance show up your grades will differ within your group; otherwise they will be the same.  Your grade for the self-reflection paper will be worth 7.5% of the overall course grade.   And your grade for each of the reflection papers on other groups’ projects will be worth 2.5% for a combined total worth 17.5% of the overall course grade.   As you may notice, this means, if you do all seven of these you can earn up to 5% extra credit.  It also means that if you can’t manage it, you can skip doing two of the short reflection papers on other groups’ projects without losing anything grade-wise.  


    ADDITIONAL EXTRA CREDIT

    I’ll give everyone two additional extra credit opportunities.  First, if, after you conduct the class for which you are responsible as your group project, you would like to make a short presentation related to the issues–and the music–you focused on, as part of my radio show, you can arrange with me to do that, for up to 5% extra credit.  Here, you’d come prepared to talk with me, on the air, about what you did your project on, as well as to play an illustrative short set or two.  This would last approximately 30 to 45 minutes.


    Second, at the end of the semester we will hold a class party at my house, and you can earn 2.5% extra credit simply for coming.  And you are welcome to bring friends.


    
    CONFERENCES/EXTRA HELP
    
    I encourage you to meet with me in conference during office hours or at another mutually convenient time to discuss any issue of interest or concern that you develop as a student in this course and as a member of this class.  I recognize the value of learning that takes place in conferences; I know this can at times be equally as important, and in fact occasionally even more important, than what takes place in class.  It also provides you an opportunity to contribute beyond what you say in class and write for class.  So please do not hesitate to meet with me at any time you think this might be helpful to you–or whenever you’d just like to talk further with me.   I want to help you in your understanding of issues addressed in texts (including audio texts in the form of diverse musical recordings) and discussions, as well as in your writing and participation.  And you may certainly also feel free to contact me by e-mail or by (my campus office) phone as well.  


    I really do like to get to know my students; students at this university continually demonstrate impressive ability, talent, knowledge, experience, insight, vitality, and good character.  I am lucky to get to know you; it enriches me.   And one thing is worth emphasizing from the start, as I know just the fact that one is a professor can be intimidating, even when, like me, one never thinks of himself as an intimidating kind of person, and that is, above all else, I like my students, I always do, I like you a lot, and I care about not only how you are doing in class together but also about your well-being in general.  The more and the better I get to know you, the more and better I can help you, and, it’s quite possible, as has been the case with many students I’ve taught over the years too, that we can even become friends.


    * Any student who has a disability and is in need of classroom accommodations, please contact the instructor and the Services for Students with Disabilities Office. *    
                            

    CONCLUSION

    In the interest of accountability–me to you–I am here providing you links: 1.) to my statement of philosophy as a college teacher: http://people.uwec.edu/ranowlan/philosophy.htm; 2.) to my autobiographical profile: http://people.uwec.edu/ranowlan/PROFILE_.htm  and http://www.myspace.com/insurgentseanmurphy  (if you too are on myspace feel free to contact me to become myspace friends); and 3.) to my professional vita (the academic equivalent of a resume): http://people.uwec.edu/ranowlan/VITA.htm.  I encourage you to check these sites out; it is useful for you to know who your teacher is, what he’s about, and where he’s coming from–and I like to be very open, honest, and forthright with you about all of that.  I look forward to a great semester working together with you!