Print Project Proposal: The Evolution of Jazz Terminology

“He is a ‘moldy fig’ and he’ll never dig the new sounds”

Today, if someone described their taste in music by identifying themselves as a “moldy fig” you would probably be extremely confused and reply with a burst of laughter, right? Well, during the Bop era, fans and players of the earlier New Orleans jazz were commonly described using this term.

So much of Jazz is entwined in language, and so much of that language also has to do with coded language around race and culture. Beginning in the 1920s and 30s, the Jazz Age effected every aspect of life it touched. Its cultural repercussions could be felt through the prohibition era, fashion, art, women’s rights, African American’s fight for equality etc. The Jazz Age brought African American culture to the white middle class and that introduction, blending, and apprehension can be analyzed through the era’s terminology usage.  

Using Time Magazine Corpus, I plan to look at how jazz terminology has changed over time. I will explore the trends and their use by using collocates as a way to explore relationships between terms over time in publications.

The Jazz Age’s evolution can be seen through time by looking at its progression through the Bop era, ragtime, blues, and jazz-rock fusion in the late twentieth century. The vast array of African-American music in the 1900s incorporated the new technology of the century, new instruments, and perfected lyrics. Likewise, artists began to publicly take political and humanitarian stances through their music.  From Ragtime to Jazz Rock Fusion, the politics and fight for rights remained apparent through the twentieth century as well as into the twenty-first century. As R&B and Urban Music encased the 1990s, the beginning of the twenty-first century led to the hip-hop generation. Hip hop music, commonly referred to as rap music, is a genre developed in the “United States by inner-city African Americans which consists of a stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping, a rhythmic and rhyming speech that is chanted.” This new form of music was a more aggressive and explicit form of expression than the music of the twentieth century. However, like the early 1900s, musicians took to music to express their emotions about race, politics, and religion. (shout-out to my undergraduate-self for finding this topic interesting and beginning this research in my paper entitled “Evolvement of African Slave Spirituals into Modern Day Songs,” 2017)

Thus, I will look at the use of words common in jazz culture such as zoot-suits, cats, jam, jive, and licks. I will also look at phrases such as boogie man, popsicle stick, and Tea man. I hope to analyze and find the trends within this terminology to shed light on the evolution of culture, language, music, and people through time.

WordPress

As we are using it for this very blog, we all have the slightest knowledge on WordPress by now.  However, if you are at all like me you are still clueless to most of WordPress’s assets and tools.

Hopefully, we all recognize the two tabs in the left corner of our screens entitled “My Site” and “Reader”. These tabs will always be visible on your screen when you are logged into your account (making the site easily navigable!). As Kaylee will be covering the “My Site” tab, I will be going over the “Reader” tab.

As it is states on WordPress’s support page you can “read posts from all the sites you follow (even the ones that aren’t on WordPress.com), find great new reads, and keep track of your comments and replies in one convenient place: the WordPress.com Reader”. To put it simply, you can find and follow blogs here. And yes, if you take the time to read the directions on the support page WordPress will become a thousand-times easier to use…shocking, right?

Thus, I will identify and define the list of links that appear after clicking on the “reader” tab below:

Followed Sites (Manage): the first link you will see once you click on “reader” is this one. This is WordPress’s equivalent to Facebook or Instagram’s public page. Here you will see the newest posts from the sites you follow in the order they were published.

Conversations: here is where you can keep up-to-date on the posts you have liked or commented on. Content will appear on this page when they have new comments or edits. This allows you to read and reply to all conversations that you have already expressed interest in in one place.

Discover: here, you will be propelled into the world of distinguished content and fascinating reads. You can view the editors’ picks, recommended sites, and resources. (AKA come here if you are ever bored and want to roam the wild world of internet bloggers)

Search: this one is self-explanatory. You can search for posts and sites on any topic that you so desire.

My Likes: once again, self-explanatory. This page will display a list of all the posts and sites you have ever “liked” (this page can tell a lot about a person, if you ask me)

Tags: Here you can “add” a tag to find relevant posts for you

Like Dr. Owens’s states in our syllabus, digital tools are affecting nearly every aspect of historical work. The “reader” tab on WordPress collects, organizes, and presents publications in an easy and accessible manner. This not only allows for more content to be published, but it allows for more people to find and read more material from a broader range of sources. Just like any other form of social media, you can like, comment, share, or visit blogs through this tab. Therefore, I like to think of WordPress’s “reader” tab as a more “intellectual” version of Twitter or Instagram…so next time you mindlessly click on your Twitter App, click on WordPress instead and find a new and stimulating topic to delve into.

What do Downton Abbey and The Houston Daily Post have in common?

What do Downton Abbey and The Houston Daily Post have in common? Well, the popular show and the Texas newspaper have both been studied using digital analysis to assess their historical contexts.

Next question, what is digital analysis? Digital analysis is a method that uses “distant reading” which requires the use of computers to read massive quantities of text.

So, what?

Well, the digital humanities and technology are advancing historian’s ability to research, learn, and write at a shocking rate. In “Space, Nation, and the Triumph of Region: A View of the World from Houston” and “Mining and Mapping the Production of Space: A View of the World from Houston,” Bevins’ research allowed him to measure and map how late nineteenth-century newspapers created an interpretation of the world for their readers. By printing some places more than others, papers such as the Houston Daily Post continually re-shaped space for nineteenth-century Americans (Bevins).  Additionally, in “Making Downton More Traditional,” Schmidt uses Downton Abbey scripts to check every single line in the show for historical accuracy. He concluded that the “language in Downton is about 50-50; half is more common in 1995, half more common in 1917” (Schmidt).

However, distant reading CANNOT replace the historian’s craft. It has the capability of diminishing the close reading of historical texts and generating interpretations. Historians must not lose the foundation in which their profession is based on: physical texts and archives. As Bevins’ argues, the two must be used together. In both studies, digital methodology played an “indispensable role” in crafting new questions and uncovering hidden patterns. These patterns are intricately documented in the graphs that each study created to depict their researched data. These graphs were able to depict data that would have taken a human brain an unimaginable amount of time and energy to concoct. Yet, technology was able to do it instantaneously. Therefore, “electronic sources and digital tools” offer fundamentally new ways for humanities scholars to practice their craft. As Bevins’ ensures in his research, digital analysis and traditional craft must be woven together to present a more in-depth understanding of the content. Thus, this experimentation of mixing and collaborating with different fields allows the opportunities and insights of research to grow larger.

Additionally, both projects used digital analysis to analyze “imagined” constructs. Bevins’s project deconstructs the purposeful making of an “imagined geography” through the printing of newspapers; and Schmidt debunks the “imagined language” used on Downton Abbey which was set in the early twentieth century. Both projects utilized diverse fields, such as computer programming and coding, in order to procure the most modern, and well researched data possible.

Thus, Bevins’ and Schmidt’s research project begs the question of “what can technology not do?” Where is there to go from here? And will the traditional historian’s craft ever disappear in its entirety?

Introducing Olivia

Hello all!

My name is Olivia Herschel and I am a first year MA student in the Public History program. I was born and raised in High Point, North Carolina and went to East Carolina University (Go Pirates!). I received a BA in anthropology with a concentration in archaeology, and a minor in history. I have worked at three major archaeological sites:  1. A colonial site on the Cape Fear River, just south of Wilmington, NC- Brunswicktown 2. A Civil War cannon emplacement- Fort Anderson 3. And a slave kitchen just outside of Greenville, NC. After going on multiple archaeological digs, I quickly realized my love for material culture and history in general. Hence, I am now interested in pursuing conservation/preservation but am also keeping an open mind and seeing where my interests lead me. My interests also lie in African American History as well as the history of the sixties in America. While obtaining my undergraduate degree, I worked as a research assistant to East Carolina’s University Historian. I assisted him in researching the first African American physician, Dr. Andrew A. Best, to work in Greenville, North Carolina. After spending a little under a year analyzing newspaper articles, conducting interviews, and transcribing hundreds of documents and recordings I realized my excitement for uncovering and documenting important aspects of history. This project truly kick-started my love for history and led me to apply to graduate school. After researching prospective programs, I discovered public history was a perfect road to translate my broad and growing interests into a future career. Although I am still getting used to the “city life”, I have come to quickly fall in love with DC and the immense amount of history and opportunities it has to offer.

To be honest, this Digital History Methods course terrifies me. I have had little interest in technology/ media, and I exude subpar technological skills (shocking for a millennial, I know). However, I know that this knowledge is imperative, even mandatory, to my future career. Therefore, I am dedicated to learning the in’s and outs of digital media. I am most excited about learning the key issues with “collecting, preserving and interpreting digital and digitized primary sources from the perspective of a historian”. By learning the issues with digital history, I am hoping to acquire a more thorough knowledge on its importance, difficulty, and range of usage.

Outside of my education, I enjoy hanging out with my friends, running, trying new foods (today, I tried Indian cuisine- delicious!) and exploring my new home here in DC. Additionally, I have come to discover that I have a great interest in politics and the history of politics since moving to our Nation’s Capital. I still have A LOT to learn but for now I enjoy acting like a tourist by walking the Mall and visiting all the museums DC has to offer (which A LOT, compared to North Carolina).