Jazz and Cinema

Course Level: 
Graduate, Undergraduate

Because the beginnings of jazz and film both date to the last years of the nineteenth century, the two art forms essentially grew up together.  The history of both is inseparable from the technological revolutions of the twentieth century, and at least in the United States, from histories of racial representation.  We will explore the racial issues raised by American films along with how filmmakers represent gender, American humor, discourses of art and the popular, and the conventions of narrative.  We will pay special attention to how all of this changes dramatically throughout the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.  After establishing what is most American about jazz and cinema, we will move on to documentary films as well as to films from Europe where many of the dominant American myths about jazz are both perpetuated and transformed. The goal of the course is to understand jazz as a music as well as a cultural practice that has been in constant flux during the last 120 years.  The representation of the music and its practitioners in cinema is crucial to an understanding of the music at each of its many cultural moments.

Past Offerings

Fall 2016 – Section 001

Day & Time: 
MW 10:10am-11:25am