Black Music Division: A Retrospective (MHI2238.01)

Michael Wimberly

In the early 70s, Bennington music faculty members Bill Dixon and Milford Graves guided Bennington students through a black aesthetic, an awakening using music, words and methods. Dixon and Grave’s philosophy through their teachings and innovative approach to creative music boldly addressed a multitude of issues in the wake of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements. This ever evolving landscape reflects on social, political, and cultural content created as an outcry from artists who spoke about it through their music, poems, and lyrics such as Cecil Taylor, Nina Simone, The Last Poets, and Gil Scott-Heron to name a few. Today, contemporary performers Public Enemy, Kendrick Lamar, Anohni, Beyonce Knowles, and Childish Gambino are using artistic platforms to stand up, speak out, and enlighten. Students will investigate how these movements instigated an awakening in the artistic community that inspired a revolution in the 60s and 70s, and how that revolution continues to resonate through the arts and our society today.

Activities include: Researching Bennington’s archives, documentaries, photos, recorded conversations and lectures, in addition to reviewing musical performances from the 2017 installation of Black Spring in the USDAN Gallery where students formulated a collective memory installation. Writing in response to readings, podcasts, and films are expected.


Learning Outcomes:
*Practice exploring the unfamiliar as part of your liberal arts education
*Engage with your group as a community of collaborators
*Become independent learners who are curious about Bennington's history



Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Course Level: 2000-level
Credits: 2
Tu 4:10PM - 6:00PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: Open enrollment
Course Frequency: Every 2-3 years

Categories: All courses , CAPA , Performance , History , Fully In-Person
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