Tuesday, November 27, 2012

UNO's Irvin Mayfield Jr. Taps into Cultural Community for "New Orleans as Discourse"

preservationhallGrammy Award-winning trumpeter Irvin Mayfield, Jr. amplifies the University of New Orleans' connections with the city and brings local celebrities to campus in “New Orleans as Discourse,” a course he teaches this spring.


Students participating in "New Orleans as Discourse" will interview professionals and "icons" in the New Orleans cultural community. The class, which is modeled after "Inside the Actor's Studio and taught by Mayfield, a professor of professional practice in UNO's esteemed music department and jazz studies program, will be held from 3 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. Wednesdays in Room 371 of Milneburg Hall.

Mayfield will interview city leaders in art, humanities and music weekly and students will follow up with questions in a question and answer session. Each interview will be video recorded and made available weekly.

An illustrious list of past speakers includes hoteliers, artists, architects, photographers, business leaders, entertainment producers, event planners, political analysts, public relations experts, tourism industry experts, music industry leaders, and the owners of the New Orleans Hornets and the New Orleans Saints.

Guests for "New Orleans as Discourse" have ranged from David Simon, executive producer of HBO's Treme and Eddie Compass, former Chief of Police fot he City of New Orleans to Soledad O'Brien, anchor and special correspondent, CNN.

In a course syllabus available online, Mayfield states that after successfully completing this course, students will be able to define the central concepts of a discussion of culture; analyze the significance of culture to the life of a city, specifically New Orleans; evaluate the culture impact of events and people in New Orleans history; compose coherent essays and engage in thoughtful discussions on the impact of culture and take ownership of cultural tools to enhance and augment quality of life.

Mayfield aims to create an online conversation about each class interview and discussion. Participating students will be required to blog between 250 and 500 words twice a week following each guest. Mayfield will also sporadically list topics for students to address in a blog. The blog collections will be graded at semester's end for participation and content.

Students will also engage in social media, posting messages on Mayfield's Facebook page regarding the most powerful aspect of each guest's interview and tweeting on Twitter the most powerful statement made in an interview.

As a final project, each student will attend an activity related to a speaker who visited class, then tying the two together, blog a minimum of 1,000 words, post a message on facebook about the most powerful aspect of the experience and tweet the quote or ensuing thought they believe to be most profound.

At semester's end, students will also write a short blog about "what this class means to me."

The class also requires that students volunteer 10 hours during the semester for cultural activities surrounding Mayfield's life, from the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra and the New Orleans Jazz Institute to numerous civic boards.