From the Rutgers-Newark M.A. Program in Jazz History and Research:

First Online Master’s Course in Jazz Historiography now Open for Registration;
Offered in June and in September

FACEBOOK page about the course


My course Historiography is available online in June and September, and anyone anywhere can register for the course starting now!

Please FORWARD this announcement to any and all who might be interested.

This is the first course from the Jazz History and Research program to be available online.

Evan Spring, a graduate of my M.A. program, was an editor of the Annual Review of Jazz Studies for seven years, spearheaded the effort to convert it into the “open access” Journal of Jazz Studies, had a WKCR show for 20 years, and—significantly–already taught the Research Methods portion of Historiography as a full-semester course in my M.A. program for three years.

I have been teaching this course since 1997, and it is a regularly updated distillation of everything I’ve learned about the practice of being a jazz historian. Each class features extensive text, several of my pre-recorded audio lectures, embedded illustrations and music audio, and relevant links. Evan will provide the follow-up, interactive teaching role – guiding class discussion, giving and grading assignments, monitoring each student’s research projects, and so on. He is Instructor, though I have designed and provided the course content (with Evan’s ample editorial assistance and suggestions). Because Evan has already taught Research Methods very successfully, he clearly has the expertise and dedication necessary to provide individual guidance for each student. Students will also interact extensively in an online class forum.

My blog postings, which can be seen and heard at,  will give you a rough idea of the look and feel of the course, but please note that the course content will be far more thorough and sophisticated in its presentation, as befits a graduate-level course. And of course, since this is for 3 academic credits, there is homework to be done–listening, reading, short writing assignments, etc.

The course is an introduction to the critical-thinking approach and multimedia research methods that I have used with graduate students in the Rutgers M.A. program in Jazz History and Research. This course is not a survey of jazz history, and it assumes you already know something about jazz history. It is about the ways jazz history has been written, and how we can “rewrite” jazz history by doing our own research. I like to say, “It’s not about what happened; it’s about what they say happened.”

Students in this class must have basic musical literacy and should know how to notate music (by hand or on the computer). There have been exceptions, however, and if an exception is made for you, please consult your instructor whenever you’re having trouble with musical terms and techniques.

There are three “mini-courses” within this course:
1. Mindset/point of view (classes 1–2). This introduction to the class explores the nature of knowledge, the practice of historiography, and jazz myths that have proliferated over the last century. The first class uses case studies from the Bible and Shakespeare, and the second class explores the evolving practice of writing history, from Herodotus to postmodernism. Both classes delve into “jazz myths” ranging from the origins of jazz to the critical response to John Coltrane.
2. Conducting your own research (classes 3–5). This mini-course provides the practical tools required for jazz historical research, from online research to genealogy to interview technique to music transcription. All of the assignments in this portion of the course will directed toward research for your final term paper.
3. Intensive listening (classes 6–7). The course concludes with extensive listening to the music of Louis Armstrong, the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, Jelly Roll Morton, and other early jazz artists. Students listen on their own time while keeping a listening journal, and transcribing at least 32 bars of music. Classes provide additional context and introduce related recordings.

Porter’s Jazz: A Century of Change (Schirmer, 1997; the Thomson
version, 2004, is an exact reprint of the original, so that’s fine
There will also be required articles which will be distributed for free.


Essentially you have to fill out a basic (NOT full) application, so you can get a Rutgers I.D. and be on the list of people who can take graduate courses. The only hassle is that you do need to get your undergrad transcript.

ALSO I should mention that they are considering adding more of my grad courses online, in which case this will count towards a four-course Certificate Program in Jazz History, the only such program anywhere!

PRICE: The course is three college credits. For NJ residents it’s about $2200. For people who live outside New Jersey it’s about $3500. Rutgers doesn’t allow auditing for online courses (most schools don’t), and they won’t allow taking it for less than 3 credits (which would be cheaper).

PLEASE EMAIL ME ( AND EVAN ( with your questions!

All the best,

Lewis Porter, Ph.D.
Professor of Music/Jazz Pianist
Director of the M.A. Program in Jazz History and Research
Rutgers University campus at Newark, N.J.