Sue Flint

Special Studies in African Ethnomusicology and in African American Jazz Aesthetic

In fall 2007, I took Jim Carroll's Intro to Afro-American Music (AAS 222) class and fell in love with both the material and his teaching style. I conducted a special studies with him in spring 2008 focusing on minstrelsy and folk culture. After reading critical and historical texts, I ended up concentrating a great deal on gender and power dynamics. In particular, I looked at the bridge between oral and written traditions, emphasizing the move from the private to public realm. I wrote my final paper on Zora Neale Hurston's autoethnography Mules and Men.

This semester I'm doing two special studies. The first, directed by Margaret Sarkissian, focuses on African ethnomusicology (the study of culture through music) and the ways in which the performing musical cultures of Africa reflect or construct gender relations. I am also looking at the production of African musics through cultural anthropological and sociological perspectives.

The other special studies project that I'm working on with Louis Wilson centers on the jazz aesthetic on Afro-American literature. I am focusing on how jazz music reflects the tensions that lie at the heart of the American experience and society: the tension between the self and the community, freedom and enslavement, the Old World and the New, innovation and tradition, black and white, harmony and dissonance, resistance and compromise. Specifically, I am looking at issues revolving around race, sexuality and gender, culture and politics. And, of course, the most important aspect—the music itself! I'm hoping to write a thesis on some aspect of Afro-American music in the fall of my senior year.

Sue Flint is a junior major with an emphasis on literature and music.