Jazz Summer Institute

$220k grant from National Endowment for the Humanities to support “Teaching Jazz as American Culture” in 2005

Gerald Early, Ph.D., the Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters in the Department of English and director of the Center for the Humanities, both in Arts & Sciences, has received a $222,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities‘ Division of Education Programs.

Gerald Early

The grant will fund “Teaching Jazz as American Culture,” an NEH Summer Institute aimed primarily at public high school teachers that will be held at Washington University in 2005. Run under the auspices of the Center for the Humanities, the institute will examine how interdisciplinary approaches to popular music, specifically jazz, can enrich a variety of subject matters; broaden understanding of American history and literature; and reveal new perspectives on race and gender in the United States.

“‘Teaching Jazz’ is intended to re-imagine how popular culture can be taught,” Early said. “Most attempts to use popular culture in schools have been misguided or disingenuous. It is hoped that the Summer Institute will offer teachers new and engaging ways to teach popular music as a humanities subject.” At the same time, “it is also hoped that this endeavor will lead to new ways of teaching the humanities and new ways of seeing the humanities as cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary.”

One of only 14 NEH Summer Institutes for 2005, “Teaching Jazz” also has been designated part of “We the People,” an NEH initiative designed to explore significant events and themes in American history and culture. Instructors will include some of the nation’s leading scholars of jazz music and American culture, including Washington University’s Jeff Smith, director of the Film & Media Studies program. The curriculum will approach jazz from social, cultural, political, technical and aesthetic perspectives, and participants will have numerous opportunities to attend live jazz concerts.

Registration — limited to about 30 applicants — is open to high school teachers from a variety of disciplines, including English, history, social studies, art and music; and to qualified non-teachers, such as high school librarians, media specialists and museum staff. Further details will be announced in a forthcoming brochure with additional updates posted in future issues of the Center for the Humanities’ publications Belles Lettres and The Figure in the Carpet, both available online at http://cenhum.artsci.wustl.edu. For more information, call (314) 935-5576.

The NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers are designed to present the best available scholarship on important humanities issues and works taught in the nation’s schools. Participating teachers compare and synthesize perspectives offered by faculty, making connections between the institute content and classroom applications, with the aim of developing improved teaching materials for their classrooms.