Friday, May 23, 2008

Scott Joplin and Literacy

Here's a story read by Professor Bacchus....

“The opera’s plot is rather simple, but the underlying message is one that had been of vital importance to Joplin for most of his life. The story is set in Texarkana, Texas, between 1866 and 1884. The main characters – all blacks – are former slaves who have been left to fend for themselves after the Civil War. They are simple people who live in ignorance and believe in superstition and conjuring. Because of their superstitions, it has been easy for conjurers to cheat them out of their money by selling them “bags of luck.”

Treemonisha is the main character in the opera. Her mother’s name is Monisha, and as a child the girl loved to sit under a particular tree-hence her name, Treemonisha. Her parents arrange for her to be educated, and the opera commences when Treemonisha is 18 and has just started her career as a teacher and leader of her people. The plot revolves around the conflict between Treemonisha and the neighborhood conjurer, who understands that once the people are no longer superstitious, he will lose his livelihood. By the end of the opera, Treemonisha outsmarts the conjurer, and knowledge triumphs over ignorance. The opera’s message – that education is the salvation of black people in the United states – was close to Joplin’s heart.” –
Scott Joplin, Composer by Katherine Preston

Here is a story of education; here is the story of critical theory – people become empowered when education allows them to see their reality; education gives them a view of the oppressor; it liberates their free will; it is an education in the struggle for freedom. Scott Joplin, the Ragtime King, an African American voice of the 19th century, a writer of music, a creator of opera, and a choreographer of dances and, in my opinion, a man who has set forth this “theory” of education. In his opera, he highlighted his understanding of freedom for the African American. He used music and dance to communicate an understanding of how oppressed people needed to use education to reveal the calculations of the oppressor; and to take that education and change their circumstances. His was a voice gone silent; his music suffered attacks of immorality and vulgarity from a racist society.

As I read about Scott Joplin I wondered about the many voices silenced by slavery and race prejudice; I thought of the many geniuses, the many theorists, the many liberators who lived and died unrecognized. And this knowledge bolstered my resolve to bring silenced voices to the forefront.

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26 Comments:

At 8:39 AM, Blogger Jackie F said...

I guess this story is trying to say that education is very important!

I would like to know more about how Trimonisha outsmartes the man?

 
At 8:40 AM, Blogger AMartinez said...

This story was pretty interesting how they used opera to tell a story and to express themselves.

 
At 8:44 AM, Blogger sbdon84 said...

The story was interesting. The story also says that eucation is key to your success!

 
At 8:45 AM, Blogger quang93111 said...

This story remind me about the dark time of Vietnam, my country, during the war before 1975. There were more than 90% people who were illiterate and the majority were superstitious.
_Why is that?

 
At 8:53 AM, Blogger Sora said...

I think this story is about people who lived oppressible life. They couldn't express their ability even though they were geniuses. Opera was so great way to express themselves.

 
At 8:54 AM, Blogger nalyd said...

This story shows Scott Joplins push for education and MI.

 
At 8:54 AM, Blogger mariko said...

This story helps me to understand how slavy lived at that time and how education effected them. Very helpful, and very interesting!

 
At 8:55 AM, Blogger Black Indian said...

I like the web site. It is very educational. Woman need to know they have heros too. Most heros you hear about are men. I think men should know about woman heros . Thank you for the blog Invite. Black Indian.

 
At 8:57 AM, Blogger hieu nguyen said...

Treemonisha is inteligent, outsmart person.
The story says education is important for sucess.

 
At 8:59 AM, Blogger Esmy Valle said...

I absolutely love this story. One sentence that stood out for me was: "By the end of the opera, Treemonisha outsmarts the conjurer, and knowledge triumphs over ignorance." That one sentence says a lot to me.

 
At 9:00 AM, Blogger HSantana1012 said...

I think it was smart for him to use music and dance so more people could understand it better, back in those days there was alot of discrimanation against african americans and I think that's why his voice was silent.

 
At 9:02 AM, Blogger kunlay said...

i think this story makes me feel proud of people can do anything . everyone has unique talent . such as this black gental man is very popular in oprea expert. Also this story tells me littile bit about history about black people in back in the days when they immigrant in USA.

 
At 9:05 AM, Blogger tomo Japone said...

This story is just like indicating my
situation which is on the way to learn English. I can be braved to talk with English speaker by gaing the knowledge of Englsih but I will fail into negative
to talk in English without studying it.

 
At 9:07 AM, Blogger kunlay said...

this story tells me education is key to success your goal .

 
At 2:42 PM, Blogger huiwang said...

i like your story ,good job .

 
At 2:43 PM, Blogger sarah said...

I enjoyed reading about how treemonisha outsmarted the men and made a name for herself.

 
At 2:44 PM, Blogger Ahmed said...

Education is a key ingredient to success.

 
At 2:47 PM, Blogger ariana said...

Ariana /Mary....
I thought it was very good and teaches us that education is a main tool in ones life.

 
At 2:49 PM, Blogger Paul said...

this is such a great story

 
At 2:52 PM, Blogger Jasmine said...

The more you know, the more power you can have. And if you want to take advantage of "education", you have to confront "that." Good message to me.

 
At 2:54 PM, Blogger Luis said...

It was good to know that Treemonisha's parents cared for her education.


Dylan - A Very good story, it tells interesting & well thought out points.

 
At 2:54 PM, Blogger beville said...

I think this story was very enlightening and it stressed the importance of education and how it could be use as a tool to uplift a set of people to be independent in their opinion and also have rational behind their thoughts.

 
At 2:54 PM, Blogger Nanako said...

At the beginning of the story, it was a little confusing for me but then it was getting interesting.
Opera is a good way to show an appearance of the people and their emphasis.

 
At 2:56 PM, Blogger Denise said...

Of course, what I also understand is that "education" comes in different forms. It is not only confined to the classroom.

 
At 3:00 PM, Blogger charlesribywilliams said...

i like how her name has to do with the story

 
At 3:10 PM, Blogger youmin said...

this story is very interesting. The opera is a great method to express what we can't say easily.

 

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