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Předmět, akademický rok 2015/2016
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North American Oral Traditions and Mass Media - JMM701
Anglický název: North American Oral Traditions and Mass Media
Zajišťuje: Katedra severoamerických studií (23-KAS)
Fakulta: Fakulta sociálních věd
Platnost: od 2015 do 2015
Semestr: letní
Body: 5
E-Kredity: 5
Způsob provedení zkoušky: letní s.:písemná
Rozsah, examinace: letní s.:1/1 Zk [hodiny/týden]
Počet míst: 20 / 20 (20)
Minimální obsazenost: neomezen
Stav předmětu: vyučován
Jazyk výuky: angličtina
Způsob výuky: prezenční
Poznámka: předmět je možno zapsat mimo plán
povolen pro zápis po webu
při zápisu přednost, je-li ve stud. plánu
Garant: Dr. Andrew Giarelli
Vyučující: Dr. Andrew Giarelli
Sylabus - angličtina
Poslední úprava: Dr. Andrew Giarelli (21.02.2016)

JMM 701

North American Oral Traditions and Mass Media

Summer Semester 2016

Andrew L. Giarelli, Ph.D.


Tuesdays 18:30 - 19:50

J 2018



Since colonial times, North American oral traditions have been adapted and institutionalized by popular media. This course will examine oral traditions and their social uses in a variety of distinctly North American media forms like pre- and post-Civil War stage shows (including blackface minstrelsy), printed broadside ballads in both Mexico and the United States, vaudeville and its antecedents/descendants, and the 20th century recording and film industries. Our primary sources will come mostly from major American repositories of oral traditions and historic popular media.


The course will consist of lectures accompanied by audiovisual presentations. There will be a midterm and a final exam.


Instructor: Andrew L. Giarelli, Ph.D., has been a Fulbright lecturer in American Studies twice, at the University of Malta and at Comenius University, Bratislava. He is a full-time lecturer in the Schools of Journalism and Humanities at Anglo-American University, Prague, as well as an external lecturer at the University of Vienna Comparative Literature and Charles University American Studies departments.


Assignments and Grade Values

Mid-Term Exam: 25 percent. You’ll get a week to write one or more short essays from a set of choices, and to turn it in by email to me.

Final Exam: 50 percent total. This will entail a longer essay from a set of choices worth 25 percent of your grade, plus an individual oral exam worth 25 percent of your grade. See Calendar below.

Class Attendance and Participation: 25 percent. This includes being able to speak about the readings in class. Also, please note: In a course that meets just 13 times, any more than 3 absences, no matter what the reason, cannot help but affect your full participation. Thus you can take up to three excused absences for whatever reason - illness, job, religious activity or holiday, whatever. Any more than that - again for whatever reason - will result in incremental deductions from your final grade. Thus, there is no need to explain to me any of your absences - just take whatever you need to take, and accept the consequences.



Textbooks, Online Resources: All reading, listening and viewing assignments are linked in the syllabus or on the SIS course website, or else available as handouts. You must also have access to a university library and its online databases to be able to write the final paper. Here are our main online resources and course texts from which readings come:


·      University of Texas Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection: Historical Maps of the United States. We shall return repeatedly to these invaluable maps showing everything from early Native American tribes and language groups to exploration and settlement to territorial and transportation growth to major battlefields (sometimes massacre sites) and more….

·      The Transatlantic Slave Trade Database. Maps showing all aspects of the African slave trade.

·      The Library of Congress American Memory Collection. Our main online source. Just pick any of the 18 collection topics in the left menu and you’ll find yourself in a fascinating virtual archive of historic mass media examples of that genre. Interested in how American advertising ever since the Pilgrims reflects traditional folk beliefs and how it defies them? I just made the mistake of clicking on the first, "Broadsides and Printed Ephemera" and I am grateful that they only have online 17,000 of their total 28,000 physical items from 1620 to 2015. This is just one collection within one collection topic; there are 18 other collection topics, each with multiple collections of varying sizes. All might be useful in providing primary material for paper topics.

·      The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America. An elaborate 2009 online exhibit, with lots of links to historic performances from the 1930s to today of folk music recorded at the Library of Congress as well as lyrics, images, etc.

·      The Lost Museum. A City University of New York/George Mason University joint project offering, among other things, a virtual re-creation of P.T. Barnum’s pre-Civil War American Museum.





Week 1            Language, Power and Slang in America

Read (in class):

"An Introduction to North American Pidgins, Creoles, and Dialects." Handout.


Week 2            Yankee Jonathan, Sam Patch, and Mose the Bowery B’hoy: The First American Legendary Heroes on the Popular Stage


1)    Dorson, America In Legend, pp. 108-121: Yankee Jonathan the Countryman". Handout.

2)    The Lost Museum Bowery Culture Archive: selected advertisements and period articles related to legendary 1840s-50s urban characters and Barnum’s American Museum.

3)    "The Pesky Sarpent, A Pathetic Ballad". Click (on the left side), enlarge and read the song lyrics.



Week 3            Ring-Tailed Roarers and the Old Southwest Frontier: Mike Fink and Davy Crockett


1) Introduction, Blair, Walter and Meine, Frankin J. Half Horse Half Alligator: the Growth of the Mike Fink Legend. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1956.

2) "Col. Crockett and the Bear and the Swallows." PDF in Course Files on SIS course site.

3) University of Missouri Library, "The Crockett Almanacs." Exhibit.

                                    4) "Mike Fink in the Crockett Almanacs"

                                    5) Walt Disney, "Davy Crockett, Indian Fighter"


Week 4            Humbugs and Minstrels: Mid-19th Century Spectacles of Caricature and Wonder


1)    Selected advertisements and period articles in Lost Museum Joice Heth Archive

4)    The Lost Museum Tom Thumb Archive: selected Tom Thumb material

5)    Blackface Minstrelsy, University of Virginia selected songs and other material

6)    History of Minstrelsy, University of South Florida Exhibit

7)    Smith, "The Persimmon Tree and the Beer Dance" and excerpt from White, "The Hop of Fashion" (handouts)


Week 5            Case Study: Folklore in Mark Twain’s Far West Journalism and Platform Lectures


1)    Stephen Railton, Huckleberry Finn andBlackface Minstrelsy

2)    Twain, "Petrified Man", "A Bloody Massacre Near Carson", "General Washington’s Negro Body-Servant", "The Golden Arm"

3)    "Wait Till Martin Comes", "Big Hairy Toe". Handouts



Week 6            Cowboys, Indians, and the West of the Imagination


1)    R.F. Zogbaum, "Painting the Town Red"

2)    excerpts from Westermeier, Trailing the Cowboy.Handout

3)    excerpts from Glenn Ohrlin, The Hell-Bound Trail. Handout

4)    Joshua Johns, "Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show". Click through all "Contents" links.

5)    Tom Foley, "Examining the Mythic Past: 1950s Westerns and Interdisciplinary Interpretation," Concept XXXVI (2013) In Course files.



Week 7            Take-Home Midterm Exam, Online: No Class Meeting


Week 8            Travelling Entertainments and their Messages in Post-Civil War America


1)    "The Arkansas Traveler", "Old-Fashioned Girl", "A Deck of Cards", "Medicine Pitch", "Candy Sale Pitch", "The Geek Pitch", "Three O’Clock Train" from Botkin, ed. A Treasury of American Folklore and McNamara, ed., American Popular Entertainments. Handouts.

2)    Library of Congress American Memory "The American Variety Stage." Click on "The Arkansas Traveller" and listen.

3)    Thomas A. Edison, early motion pictures: "Uncle Josh at the Moving Picture Show", "Uncle Josh’s Nightmare", "Turkish Dance: Ella Lola"



Week 9            Late 19th and Early 20th Century Panoramas of Race, Gender and Class on Stage, Screen and Early Records


1)    Library Of Congress American Memory, "The American Variety Stage: Vaudeville and Popular Entertainment."

2)     "The Babies On Our Block", "De Golden Wedding", "Darktown Is Out Tonight" from Don’t Give de Name a Bad Place. On SIS course site along with text to songs. Also Frank Stokes, "Chicken You Can Roost Behind the Moon"; Lil McLintock, "Furniture Man."

3)    Joe Welch, "Troubles"

4)    Kenrick, John, Selected Sample Scenes From Historic Musicals and "A History of the Musical Burlesque." Click on bottom to go to page two.

4)    Selected Abbott and Costello Show episodes



Week 10          Commodification and Race in 20th Century American Popular Music


1)    Roberts, John. Black Music of Two Worlds. Chapter 2, "Cultural Blending." Handout.

2)    Scott Joplin, "Maple Leaf Rag", Jelly Roll Morton, "Maple Leaf Rag", Dallas String Band, "Dallas Rag"

3)    Johnny Cash, "Casey Jones"; Furry Lewis, "Kassie Jones" (1928); "KC Moan" (1929), The Memphis Jug Band; Haywire Mac, "Casey Jones the Union Scab"; 1950s "Good & Plenty" candy commercial; Blind Willie McTell, "Wabash Cannonball", Roy Acuff, "Wabash Cannonball" (1940); Palmer McAbee, "McAbee’s Railroad Piece" (1928); The Carter Family, "Engine 143" (1939) Joan Baez, "Engine 143" (1961)

4)    Arthur Collins, "The Oceana Roll" (1911); Collins and Harlan, "Alexander’s Ragtime Band"; Charlie Chaplin, The Gold Rush (1925), "Dance of the Dinner Rolls" scene; W.C. Handy, "St. Louis Blues"; Memphis Minnie, "Frisco Town"; William and Versey Smith, "When That Great Ship Went Down"; Mississippi John Hurt, "Spike Driver Blues"(1928); Evans and MClain, "John Henry Blues"; The Carter Family, "Cannonball Blues" (1936); Furry Lewis, "Stagger Lee and Billy Lyons"; Cannon’s Jug Stompers, "Feather Bed"; Jimmie Rodgers, "Jimmie the Kid"; Original Dixieland Jass Band, "Livery Stable Blues" (1917); British Pathé, 1920s Fox Trot; Get Your Ass In the Water and Swim Like Me, "Shine and the Titanic"; Al Jolson, "Mammy" from The Jazz Singer (1927) 

5)    samples from Calypso Calaloo: Early Carnival Music in Trinidad, Zoop Zoop Zoop, and Corridos Sin Fronteras



Week 11          Tabloids, Advertising and the "New Woman"


1)    Nellie Bly, The Days In A Mad-House, Around the World In 72 Days excerpts. Handout

2)    excerpts from Harnett Kane, Dorothy Dix. Handout

3)    sample Charles Dana Gibson illustrations of "Gibson Girl"

4)    "Ziegfeld Follies", Library of Congress American Memory



Week 12          Subcultures and Mass Media: Beats, Hippies, Punks


                        1) Andrew Giarelli, "Oral Legend and Media Narrative in the Birth of the U.S. Hippie Subculture". Ethnologia Slovaca et Slavica (2012). PDF in Course Files on SIS course site.


Week 13          Oral Traditions and 21st Century Media


1)    Bill Ellis, "Making A Big Apple Crumble: The Role of Humor in Constructing a Global Response to Disaster". New Directions in Folklore 6 (June 2002).

2)    Monica Foote, "Userpicks: Cyber Folk Art in the Early 21st Century." Folklore Forum 37.1 (2007).



Final Exam: Essay due June 17; oral exams can be scheduled between May 16-20 and May 30-June 17.





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