Academic Courses & Programs

Integrated Liberal Studies

No More Walls, Towards A Truly Liberal Arts Education

During the Spring 2006 academic quarter at the University of Denver and Spring 2008 semester at Brown University, I created a lecture series for composer, conductor and multi-instrumentalist David Amram. Inspired by the Integrated Liberal Studies Program I completed as an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Amram traveled between the Departments of Anthropology, Biology, English, Judaic Studies, Theatre and Urban Studies where he gave an exclusive lecture/performance for the students, staff and faculty of these departments, as well as any of their guests.  Topics included the global politics of world music; the scientific and aesthetic links between the natural world and symphonic music; his collaboration with novelist Jack Kerouac; the socio-cultural relationship between Judaic, African-American and Native American music; a critical retrospective of Amram's work in the theatre and film industry; a screening of his holocaust opera for television, The Final Ingredient; and finally, Amram's reflections on his lifetime touring the world's great cities.

In addition to these lectures, Amram also co-taught with me my sociology of American culture course, Names We Call America, Digging the Roots of Cool. This course included seven special events with Amram, myself and two of Amram's professional peers, painter and art historian Ed Adler, filmmaker and photographer and filmmaker Chris Felver.

These special events included a screening of the classic Beat film Pull My Daisy, for which Amram composed the score, as well as appeared in; readings from Amram's two books, Vibrations, an autobiography, and Off Beat: Collaborating With Kerouac, a socio-cultural history; a gallery exhibit of Amram's unpublished caricatures; a live performance of Amram's From Cairo to Kerouac, A Program of World Music, Classics of Jazz and Readings of Kerouac With Music; a gallery exhibit of the work of Ed Adler; and a film and photography retrospective of Chris Felver. All of these special events were scheduled outside of class time and open to the wider university community. Finally, in addition to his work in the Division of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and the Division of Natural Sciences, Amram also conducted students at the Lamont School of Music for a performance of parts of his 1962 film score, The Manchurian Candidate, as well as gave one lecture on the history of the polycultural roots of symphonic music.

The University of Denver • Brown University