Monday, April 9, 2012

UW offers course on Springsteen

A University of Wisconsin professor is teaching Bruce Springsteen to 19- and 20-year-olds who may not listen to the boss's music but probably know the America he sings about -- abandoned factories, suffering military veterans, shattered dreams.

We strongly suspect the course is easier than Organic Chemistry, but we also think there's merit in reflecting on characters like the hungry and the hunted who explode into rock and roll bands. Or contemplating an American landscape of a dusty beach road in the skeleton frames of burned-out Chevrolets. Or thinking about the dad who sweats the same job from mornin' to morn and can't afford a new car.

The AFL-CIO tells us the class is called "Bruce Springsteen's America" and you can follow it on the Huffington Post: Here's how he describes the class:
Each week, we listen to one of Bruce's albums -- at the moment we're finishing up Born in the U.S.A. -- and read sections from Dave Marsh's biography of Springsteen along with three books about American society since the 1960s: Jefferson Cowie's Stayin' Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class; Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community; and David Sirota's Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live in Now--Our Culture, Our Politics, Our Everything. For each class period, six or seven students submit e-mail posts in which they reflect on how Bruce's music responds to the world he was living in and what call it's making to us as we grapple we the problems we're facing in ours. In turn, those posts serve as the calls which spark class discussion. Sometimes that takes us deeper into the music in its original context: Sometimes it spins out towards today's world.
We kind of wish New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would be required to take the course. Though he's a huge Springsteen fan, he'd probably get an F.