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Rastaman vibration in the classroom

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This version of Bob Marley is not in the curriculum.

Next semester I will be putting together a course called "The Life and Times of Bob Marley." I'll be teaching it as part of the university's liberal arts curriculum.

I can just see the eye-rolling as certain faculty members learn about the course: "A course on Bob Marley? They'll let anybody teach anything here."

I've been in contact with a publishing company representative to try to find books for the course. He's a note I just sent her in reply to an email she sent today, wondering just how I will put the course together:

I've been thinking about developing this course for several years, and it's going to be very much a course grounded in history and economics. It must focus on the history of British imperialism in the West Indies and specifically Jamaica. Closely related to that theme are the Jamaican economy and Jamaican politics over the years. Students must understand exactly what Trenchtown was/is and the effect it had on Marley's growing up there.

The course must include a healthy helping of the life and times of Haile Selasse and the reasons for his central religious role for the Rastafari. And then there's Marcus Garvey and the pan-African movement. Marley's music must be viewed through those prisms (not to mention that reggae must be viewed in its own musical context and history).

The Rastaman Vibration album links naturally to those social, economic and political themes; albums like Kaya,/i> do not. Marley's later works—in particular Exodus, Uprising and Survival—also work within the context I've outlined.

I can't think of a musician who wrote so long, so consistently, so passionately and so effectively about social justice issues. I see a lot of Marley T-shirts being worn on campus by students who couldn't find Ethiopia on a map if you spotted them the hemisphere. Marley, for them, is just a guy in dreads smoking spliffs the size of croissants. This course will disabuse them of that notion.


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 11th, 2012 04:36 am (UTC)
I would love to audit this course.
Dec. 11th, 2012 03:00 pm (UTC)
As a faculty member, you probably have the right to stop in whenever you want to.
Dec. 11th, 2012 03:01 pm (UTC)
Buy the ticket, take the ride.
Dec. 11th, 2012 05:15 am (UTC)
Me too.
Dec. 11th, 2012 02:14 pm (UTC)
Is this available for distance learning?
Dec. 11th, 2012 03:00 pm (UTC)
Thanks much for the interest, but I need to walk through the course first before I can know how to work it long distance.

If it seems to be a popular course, though, I see no reason why the university wouldn't be interested in developing it as a distance learning course, perhaps at a reasonable fee.
Dec. 11th, 2012 05:16 pm (UTC)
You had me at spliffs the size of croissants. But seriously, this sounds like a fantastic course. Wish I could sit in!
Dec. 11th, 2012 10:01 pm (UTC)
I can't wait to fire one up—oops! I meant fire up the course.
Dec. 12th, 2012 12:23 am (UTC)
It sounds like a vantage point that would be a really interesting and informative. I know our oldest, as a history major, took lots of courses that focused on a specific region of the world like this. Great idea, hope it pans out!
Dec. 12th, 2012 03:34 am (UTC)
Thanks for the well-wishes. I've been putting this course together in my head for a long time.
Dec. 14th, 2012 12:50 am (UTC)
p.s. - I like your new lj format. I haven't played with the layout of mine in ages. I wonder if a new look makes it more likely that I'd write in it...prolly not.
Dec. 12th, 2012 02:17 am (UTC)
I wish I lived close enough to audit. It sounds awesome.
Dec. 12th, 2012 03:36 am (UTC)
I hope students will find this stuff as interesting as I do.
Dec. 13th, 2012 01:19 pm (UTC)
Cool Runnings, Mon! Holiday
Dec. 13th, 2012 01:20 pm (UTC)
There's a phrase I'd forgotten. Iri ites!
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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