Class discussion website

Hand in final essays and exams here


SCAND 490/590: The Singing Revolution
Winter Quarter 2010
Instructor: Guntis Ðmidchens 
Office: Raitt Hall 305 T
Office Hours: Mondays, 3:30-5:00 pm
Phone: (206) 616-5224

Class meeting times: MTWTh 11:30-12:20, Savery Hall 138

This course explores the history of Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian singing traditions.  We aim to reconstruct a historical and cultural context for the “Singing Revolution,” the nonviolent movement for the independence of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.  We aim to answer the questions: Was singing necessary in the singing revolution?  Why? How?

Course Objectives:

  • Learn about the history of singing traditions in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania;
  • Practice the methods of folkloristics: Analyze meanings and functions of songs and singing in context. 
  • Write an original research paper about the relation between songs and politics.  

Required Readings

  • Anatol Lieven, The Baltic Revolution (Yale University Press, 1994)
  • Priit Vesilind, The Singing Revolution (Varrak, 2008)
  • Olgerts Eglitis, Nonviolent Action in the Liberation of Latvia (Einstein Institution, 1993)
  • Grazina Miniotaite, Nonviolent Resistance in Lithuania (Albert Einstein Institution, 2002)
  • G. Ðmidchens, excerpts from unpublished manuscript
  • James and Maureen Tusty, The Singing Revolution (film)

Grades (see details below)

  • 20% Class participation: presentations and discussions quizzes about reading and listening assignments
  • 20% Three case studies of songs from the Baltic (1-2 pages each)
  • 20% Final Examination
  • 40% Independent research paper

Class participation: Come to class prepared to discuss songs assigned for that day.   

  • See study guidelines under the directions for song case studies below. 

Case studies of songs: Write brief analyses of three Baltic songs  (1-2 pages each).  Each case study should include the following:

  • One-sentence summary of the song’s content
  • Notes on the song’s “texture” (rhythm, rhyme, melody, performance style)
  • Ethnographic description of context: Who sang, where, why
  • Meanings (associations that the singers make while they sing)
  • Functions (what the song does, its effect on singers and audiences). 
  • Post your analysis on the class discussion website
    • Begin a “new conversation” under “Listening samples and song discussion.”  In your subject line, write the song’s number (for example, 1.14 Dear Lithuania). 
  • Critique analyses posted by your colleagues! 

Final Exam will be a take-home critique essay about the film, “Singing Revolution,” as discussed in class. 

  • Exam essays must be uploaded to the Collect It website before the scheduled exam time, 2:30 pm on Wednesday, March 17. 

Research essays, due in four stages:

·      Write a case study of the relation between singing and politics.  Topics may include:

o  Cultural history of singing or songs in a non-Baltic culture;

o  Case study of a Baltic example not covered in class assignments

o  Overview of the Baltic Singing Revolution, as portrayed in the mass media of a country outside of the Baltic;  

o  Other topics, as discussed with the instructor.

·      Post updates of your research in your personal section of the class discussion website.  Only the students in the class may view and post comments. 

·    Note that each assignment is an expansion of the previous one: 

o  Due January 15: Preliminary bibliography

o  Due January 29: Formulate your research problem, and a working title for your essay.  Expand and annotate your bibliography;

o  Due February 12: Outline, including working title; research problem; subheadings; and expanded bibliography.

o  Due February 26: Draft of final essay.  

o  Due March 5: Post a critique of a colleague’s essay, as assigned in class;

o  Due March 12: Upload final essay to the Collect It website (not the regular class discussion website)



Last Updated 01/03/2010   

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