Universität Wien

160077 PS Benny Goodman and 1930s/40s Music Culture of the United States (2021S)

Continuous assessment of course work


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


max. 25 participants
Language: German


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

The proseminar will start completely online and (according to the current requirements of the university) will probably be held in this form for the whole semester.

Wednesday 03.03. 15:00 - 16:30 Digital
Wednesday 10.03. 15:00 - 16:30 Digital
Wednesday 17.03. 15:00 - 16:30 Digital
Wednesday 24.03. 15:00 - 16:30 Digital
Wednesday 14.04. 15:00 - 16:30 Digital
Wednesday 21.04. 15:00 - 16:30 Digital
Wednesday 28.04. 15:00 - 16:30 Digital
Wednesday 05.05. 15:00 - 16:30 Digital
Wednesday 12.05. 15:00 - 16:30 Digital
Wednesday 19.05. 15:00 - 16:30 Digital
Wednesday 26.05. 15:00 - 16:30 Digital
Wednesday 09.06. 15:00 - 16:30 Digital
Wednesday 16.06. 15:00 - 16:30 Digital
Wednesday 23.06. 15:00 - 16:30 Digital
Wednesday 30.06. 15:00 - 16:30 Digital


Aims, contents and method of the course

Clarinetist and bandleader Benny Goodman (1909-1986) was virtually omnipresent in the USA of the 1930s and 40s. He produced live gigs, recordings, radio shows and movies non-stop. Crowned the "King of Swing," an autobiography of the 30-year-old was published as early as 1939. After World War II, the big international big band tours followed, taking him to Europe, Russia and Asia.

In this proseminar, we will examine Goodman's biography and career in a new light and unusual contexts (for example, as a businessman or interpreter of classical music), while at the same time casting diverse spotlights on the U.S. musical culture of his time. We will address questions of the entertainment industry and media history, as well as the entanglements between "classical music" and "jazz," and the extensive immigrant networks that shaped, for instance, New York's musical life at the time. Gender and race bias will be central themes throughout the semester and will be made conscious as structures inherent in the context of the object of study. The temporal focus of the proseminar will be the 1930s and 40s. Towards the end of the semester, we will also look at Goodman's reception in Europe and his role in the context of US foreign policy after World War II.

The aforementioned contents are to be acquired by the students primarily interactively, through preparatory reading, listening and research tasks, through discussions and group work in the sessions, as well as through the preparation of presentations and proseminar papers. The collegial exchange will be in the foreground despite (or even because of) the current situation and through the integration of various tools also be implemented online in a stimulating way.

The goal is not only the differentiated-critical acquisition of the topic, but also the acquisition of basic scientific skills, such as the development of a research question, the handling of written, audio and video sources, as well as the presentation and writing of the research results. As a special focus (and in line with the current situation), finding and using digital resources will be increasingly integrated into the lessons. Independent and creative approaches are strongly encouraged.

Assessment and permitted materials

seminar paper, presentation, abstract
buddy group activities
work assignments for preparation/follow-up
(additional "bonus activities")

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

1 (sehr gut) -> 100-89 points
2 (gut) -> 88-76 points
3 (befriedigend) -> 75-63 points
4 (genügend) -> 62-50 points
5 (nicht genügend) -> 49-0 points

60 points are required for a positive assessment of the class.
The distribution of points among the individual performances will be announced at the beginning of the semester.

Desired prior knowledge includes a basic orientation to music history, general history, and the ability to read scholarly texts in English.

Examination topics

Examination-immanent course with compulsory attendance; the grade is composed of the above-mentioned performances.

Reading list

• Collier, James Lincoln: Benny Goodman and the Swing Era, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1989
• Erenberg, Lews A.: Swingin’ the Dream. Big Band Jazz and the Rebirth of American Culture, Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1998
• Firestone, Ross: Swing, Swing, Swing. The Life and Times of Benny Goodman, New York & London, W W Norton & Company, 1994
• Nicholls, David: The Cambridge History of American Music, Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1998
• Tackley, Catherine: Benny Goodman‘s Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2012

Association in the course directory


Last modified: Fr 12.05.2023 00:17