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2023 Schoff Memorial Lecture Series, III
April 10 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
III: The Black American Roots of the Broadway Musical Sound
Much of my academic work addresses the results in language of contact between groups. My main interests are in revealing hybridities hitherto unsuspected, and in refining our conception of hybridities more obvious. My goal, addressing a wide range of languages and also extending to music, is to wean us from preconceptions due to superficial appearances, distracting gulfs between the present and the past, and concerns more local to our moment than scientifically framed. In these three lectures I will present areas that I have found of particular interest in this vein.
My first lecture will argue that English, based on its history of significant structural mixture from Celtic languages after the fifth century, C.E. and extreme simplification due to use by adult Vikings after the eighth century, C.E., qualifies as a creole language in the same sense that languages like Haitian and Cape Verdean do. My second lecture seeks a solution to the mystery of why there are so few Spanish creole languages, recruiting a wide range of evidence to locate the origin of today’s Atlantic creole languages on the west coast of Africa around the castle forts established there by leading colonial powers starting in the seventeenth century. My final lecture will outline how black American musical styles created what we today know as the sound of “white” American theatre music.