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Unit information: Music and Migration in the 20th Century in 2015/16

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Unit name Music and Migration in the 20th Century
Unit code MUSI20085
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Scheding
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Music
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

What do Stravinsky and Schoenberg have in common with Miles Davis and Asian Dub Foundation? Their music is informed by engagements with diaspora, by experiences of exile, and by characteristics of displacement. Migration as a phenomenon, whether physical or virtual, has underpinned and informed a wide variety of musics in the 20th century.

In the twentieth century, displacement and migration reached a scale unprecedented in human history. Where people travel, so does music. We will explore how migration has impacted on musical genres ranging from western art music to pop and jazz in a multitude of different ways. Topics will include the wave of migration triggered by the Russian revolution; the migrations of musicians who fled the rise of fascism before and during WWII; the role of music in the formation of diasporic identities ranging from the Jewish diaspora to jazz in the African-American community; and diasporic musics in postcolonial metropolises.

The aims of this unit are to:

  1. Make you familiar with the basic methodologies and approaches of migration and diaspora studies with regards to music;
  2. Explore (or reconsider) a wide variety of musics through the lens of migration and diaspora;
  3. Examine the ways in which musics are produced, consumed and used as vehicles of diasporic identity.

Intended Learning Outcomes

At the end of the unit, you should be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  1. the main methodologies and approaches of migration and diaspora studies with regards to music
  2. the ways in which various migrations and their socio-political contexts contributed to shaping a wide variety of musics
  3. the ways in which musics are produced, consumed and used as vehicles of diasporic identity
  4. the socio-historic underpinnings of diasporic musics, and their political functions

and (5.) be able to deliver a coherent argument in verbal form.

Teaching Information

Weekly 2-hour seminar for the whole cohort.

Assessment Information

  • 2,500 word essay (40%).
  • Individual workfile (30%):

750-word blog entries for each of any five weeks of the unit, summarising the key points of the material encountered in pre-class reading and responding to it critically. Students must submit 5 posts in order to gain credit for the unit. Towards the end of the course, students choose 3 entries to submit without revision as their workfile for a summative mark.

  • Presentation of 10 minutes (30%).

All assessments will demonstrate ILOs 1 - 4, with the presentation also addressing ILO 5.

Reading and References

  • Reinhold Brinkmann and Christoph Wolff, ed., Driven into Paradise: The Musical Migration from Nazi Germany to the United States. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999
  • Stephen Castles and Mark J. Miller, The Age of Migration: International Population Movements in the Modern World. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009
  • Erik Levi and Florian Scheding, ed., Music and Displacement: Diasporas, Mobilities and Dislocations in Europe and Beyond. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2010
  • Ingrid Monson, ed., The African Diaspora: A Musical Perspective. New York: Garland, 2000
  • Edward W. Saïd, Reflections on Exile and Other Essays. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002
  • Daniel Snowman, The Hitler Emigrés: The Cultural Impact on Britain of Refugees from Nazism. London: Chatto & Windus, 2002