Jazz workshop for K-12 teachers funded by NEH

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 $73,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities’ (NEH) Division of Education Programs.

The grant will fund “The Impact of Jazz on American Life,” an NEH Faculty Humanities Workshop for K-12 teachers that will examine how interdisciplinary approaches to popular music, specifically jazz, can enrich a variety of humanities subjects. Run under the auspices of the Center for the Humanities, the program is one of seven NEH Faculty Humanities Workshops for 2008-09. In addition, it has been designated part of “We the People,” an NEH initiative designed to explore significant events and themes in American history and culture.

Early said the workshop will explore “how a music went from being hot to being cool, how we Americans learned to talk jive and be hip, how an art form grabbed our hearts and minds and, for a time, refused to let go.

“It is a story about national pride and about heroic resiliency, success and failure,” he said. “It is the story of American jazz.”

“The Impact of Jazz” builds on the Center for the Humanities’ summer institute “Teaching Jazz as American Culture,” which took place in 2005 and 2007 and also received NEH funding. Like its predecessor, “The Impact of Jazz” aims to help teachers understand how investigating a major American art form — from cultural, technical and aesthetic perspectives — can broaden understanding of American history and literature while revealing new facets of its political, social and commercial influence.

The workshop will include a weeklong summer session as well as eight Saturday sessions spaced throughout the 2008-09 academic year.

Instructors will include some of the nation’s leading scholars of jazz music and American culture, including Early; Patrick Burke, Ph.D., assistant professor of music in Arts & Sciences; and Cecil Slaughter, senior lecturer in dance in Arts & Sciences.

In addition, participants will attend live performances by nationally known jazz musicians at Jazz at the Bistro, one of the Center’s institutional partners. Other institutional partners include the St. Louis Public Schools and the St. Louis Archdiocese. (A representative from each of the latter will serve on the workshop’s supervising staff.)

Enrollment is limited to 20 applicants and is open to teachers from a variety of disciplines, including English, history, social studies, art and music, as well as to qualified non-teachers such as librarians, media specialists and museum staff. Applications are available online at cenhum.artsci.wustl.edu or can be requested by calling 935-5576.

The application deadline is May 23. Successful applicants will be notified no later than June 2.