Seminar in American Religon


Location: Notre Dame Conference Center, McKenna Hall, Rooms 210-214


Jason Bivins of North Carolina State University will discuss his new book, Spirits Rejoice!: Jazz and American Religion (Oxford University Press, 2015). Commentators for this seminar are Stephen Schloesser, S.J., Loyola University Chicago, and Hugh R. Page, Jr., University of Notre Dame.

Spirits Rejoice! explores the relationship between American religion and American music, and the places where religion and jazz have overlapped. Jason C. Bivins takes to heart a central characteristic of jazz itself and improvises, generating a collection of themes, pursuits, reoccurring foci, and interpretations. He examines topics such as musical creativity as it relates to specific religious traditions, jazz as a form of ritual and healing, and jazz cosmologies and metaphysics.

Bivins riffs on interviews, liner notes, journals, audience reception, and critical commentary, producing a work that argues for the centrality of religious experiences to any legitimate understanding of jazz, while also suggesting that jazz opens up new interpretations of U.S. religious history. His conclusions explore how the sound of spirits rejoicing challenges prevailing understandings of race, music, and religion in the United States.

This event is free and open to the public.