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History and music interwoven and amplified through continuing education

Three continuing education classes at Camosun this fall put a backbeat on history lessons.

A two-part Latin American History Through Music class takes to the floor September 25 and October 16, while the History of the Blues plays out over six Tuesday evenings beginning September 28.

“It’s a unique way of learning cultural and political history,” says Christine Forster who teaches Spanish language classes at Camosun, as well as the new Latin American History Through Music. “Music brings history to life. Song lyrics allow us to read between the lines of official historical accounts, and provide deeper insights into society.”

History of the Blues is taught by Jim Martens, PhD, who presented A History of Rock and Roll: The Early Years 1950 – 1967 earlier this year at Camosun College.

Martens believes that blues provides a voice for those often neglected by historians.“Blues is a wonderful example of history from the bottom up,” says Martens. "Blues has altered and changed, redefining itself as it spread out of the American South, adding spice and local flavors from parts of the United States and beyond, creating many blues sub-genres.” He notes that music writer Robert Palmer calls blues a ‘gumbo: a mixture of many types of music and that no two people will have exactly the same tastes’.

For information on this, and other Continuing Education classes, please check

Media contacts

James Martens, Instructor

Toni Burton, Program Coordinator

James (Jim) W. Martens, Ph.D.
Martens taught history at Red Deer College for over twenty years, and has published in the areas of British sport history, and rock and roll. He is currently studying the socio-cultural importance of “momentary communities” in history.

As a teacher of American history, Martens has incorporated the study of blues into his courses as a way of understanding the African-American experience in twentieth-century America. His presentations also include the blues in Britain, which offers an understanding of the growing popularity of the blues in post-war England, and up to 1964.

Martens believes that examining non-traditional areas of history reveals a great deal about the societies in which they function. He also believes that history should be based on an exchange of ideas.

At the end of August, Martens started hosting a two-hour radio show on CFUV called “Blues in the Morning”.

Christine Forster's travel and studies in Argentina, Spain and Ecuador allow her to infuse her Spanish language classes with the richness of the culture of Spain and Latin America. An experienced and engaging teacher, and an aficionado of Latin American music, Christine has taught Spanish at UBC and is currently a sessional instructor in the Department of Hispanic and Italian Studies at UVIC. She holds a BA and an MA in Spanish from UBC and brings her unique teaching style to Camosun.

Course Details

History of the Blues
This course will present an understanding of the relationship between Blues and social history from Slavery to the present. The development of the musical genre in the American south, up the Mississippi, into the industrial cities of the North, and finally out into the "big world" will be documented.

Rather than as an artifact in a museum, this class looks at Blues as an evolutionary process. The Blues (and its progeny) in Canada, England, the West Indies, and beyond are also explored.

  • Tuesday evenings 6:30-9pm
    September 28 – November 2
    6 sessions
    Cost $125 + HST
    Course code 2010F LFST 412G 001
    James Martens
    Lansdowne campus

Latin American History Through Music: Part 1 & 2
Have you ever wondered WHY Spanish is spoken in Latin America; WHAT happened during the conquest; WHEN independence was won; WHO was involved in Mexican and Cuban revolutions; or HOW the countries of the Americas made the transition from dictatorship to democracy?

Find out in this fun approach to studying history and politics through music. The course will be given in English and translations of song lyrics will be provided. Students may register separately for Part 1 or/and Part 2.

Part 1 will cover the Conquest, the Wars of Independence, and the Mexican Revolution.

  • Saturday September 25 1:30-4:30pm
    1 session
    Cost $49 + HST
    Course code 2010F LFST 700G 001
    Christine Forster
    Lansdowne campus

Part 2 will cover the Cuban Revolution, Dictatorship, and the Transition to Democracy.

  • Saturday October 16 1:30-4:30pm
    1 session
    Cost $49 + HST
    Course code HST2010F LFST 710G 001
    Christine Forster
    Lansdowne campus

Last updated: September 2, 2010 2:44 pm

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