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The Roma Through History, Music, and Film
CEUS-R 649
Lynn Hooker

Europe’s largest minority, commonly known in English as “Gypsies,” more properly referred to as Roma, Sinti or Gitano, have been enslaved, hunted down, imprisoned, and generally reviled; at the same time, they have fascinated members of the majority, and writers, artists, and composers have exploited the exotic flavoring they find in the image of “Gypsiness.” Roma musicians are also indispensable to folk and popular music practices around the European continent.  This course will survey historical events in Roma history and address problems in writing about a people whose culture is perceived as predominantly oral.  We will also examine both how this “mysterious” group has been represented, especially through music, and how its members have responded creatively to these representations.

Readings for this class are in English, though students with proficiency in other languages will be encouraged to explore additional sources in their research. 


Participation - Attendance and active participation in class are expected of all students.

Reading presentations/leading classroom discussion - Over the course of the semester, each student will be responsible for presenting two readings to the class and for leading discussion on those readings (including providing discussion questions).  Since this is an interdisciplinary class, I urge you to choose one item from your comfort zone and one further afield: perhaps one sociological and one folklore item, or one historical and one musicological.  If you would like to substitute a reading with something else that might offer a different perspective on the weekly theme, feel free, but please talk to me about it at least two weeks in advance.

Music, film, or literature presentation - An ongoing theme of our course is the way that the Roma are represented and how they represent themselves, and concrete examples are the best way to flesh out this theme.  Once in the semester, at an appropriate time in the course schedule, each student will make a brief presentation on a piece of music or album, a film, or a piece of literature.  Please speak to me early in the semester about your selection and scheduling. 

NB: Audio and/or video examples are strongly encouraged.  However, if your presentation requires equipment that is not normally in our classroom, let me know at least a week in advance so I can schedule its delivery.

Research projects - Each student registered for the seminar will write a thoroughly researched (field and/or library research seminar paper or other project (i.e. extensive website, CD-ROM, etc., with a shorter paper, subject to approval), focusing on a specific topic related to the Roma, based primarily on research conducted during the course of the seminar.  The projects and papers will differ in disciplinary perspective, approach, and format, depending on the student’s background and interests. 

It goes almost without saying that students will wish to focus on their proposed topics as early as possible.  To encourage you to get an early start, you are required to submit a one- to two-page précis and working bibliography.

Requirements for this class are two reading presentations, a presentation on an artistic work, a research paper and presentation, and participation in class discussion.

Reading presentations/discussion leading    20%
Presentation on artwork    15%
Research paper    40%
Research presentation     15%