If you’ve browsed through WesMaps recently, perhaps you noticed an exciting new addition to our illustrious faculty—folk singer and Wes alum Dar Williams ’89! She’s teaching a course for the Center for the Study of Public Life (CSPL) called “Music Movements in a Capital Democracy.” The course, currently open to junior and senior non-majors (Wednesdays 1:10-4), is described as follows:
This course will focus on music movements that have used the presentation, expression, and production of music and music events to facilitate socio-politico transitions. The vital context of these movements is the U.S. in particular, where the speed and power of commerce, as well as the concentration of capital, present unique opportunities for progressive values and goals in music.
We will look at huge events, like The Newport Festivals, Woodstock, Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, Lillith Fair, and Bonaroo and examine how these movements have both evolved and spread their tendrils into the world (if they have). We will also spend some time on smaller grassroots venues and music series in Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, and New York and see how blues, folk, punk, and “Americana” venues have affected and interacted with their communities. We will look at how music scenes evolved and grew and sometimes became institutions, like the Chicago Old Town School of Music.
This sounds even cooler than the Theory of Semiotics course offered in ’93. For their final assignments, students can “plan a festival or performance” or “write a song and create a context of performance and social movement through which it would achieve its social goals.” Maybe they can get inspiration from Dar Williams’s own lyrics, like from “That Co-Ed Song,” written probably about Wesleyan (fun fact: she lived in Butt A).
If we’re lucky, she may perform for us at a Wesleyan Thinks Big type event, or just strum her way through lectures. Her last Wesleyan performance was during the 2009 Reunion & Commencement Weekend in the Memorial Chapel. She’s going on tour all throughout the fall semester (including a December 31 show in Middletown), so I wonder how that’ll affect her office hours. For now, you can “like” her on Facebook, read her Huffington Post pieces, and listen to her music. Get ready for Drop/Add, everyone.