Friday, April 22, 2016

It started out as a “bachelor’s” degree….

There’s a plain Jane reason why that four-year sheepskin is called a “bachelor’s degree.”

In the 11th century, the men who went to college for their first degree attained a respectable mastery of knowledge, but it wasn’t enough to set them up for good jobs.

Hence, they were generally unable to support a family, and thus remained bachelors until they went further in their studies.

In common parlance, they earned the “bachelor’s” degree.

The first Western university was the University of Bologna in Italy, established in 1088. The University of Paris opened its doors about 60 years later, and the University of Oxford was created in 1167.

First rough sketch of Harvard seal
There is some high-toned dispute about the founding date of the first American “university.” Harvard, without a doubt, was established in 1636 as the first “institution of higher learning” in the English colonies. cites Kevin Madigan’s Medieval Christianity in explaining the impact of universities on the development of Western civilization, starting about the mid-point of the Middle Ages.

By the way, the academic powerhouse we think of as a “university” was originally an outgrowth of the medieval guilds, and the name “university” is shorthand for universitas magistrorum et scholarium, that is, a "community of teachers and scholars.”

Sometimes a university is more than that, and sometimes, less. That’s a story for another time.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Friday, April 15, 2016

“Mannish Boy”….hold that thought

When McKinley Morganfield was born 103 years ago, nobody knew that he would become “the father of modern Chicago blues.”

That’s because nobody knew he was Muddy Waters. That didn’t come out right away.

Lucky for us, folklorist Alan Lomax “discovered” Muddy Waters” in 1941 and made the first recordings of the unshackled voice of the blues that would make such an enduring, personal statement in such fully dimensioned classics as “Rollin’ Stone,” “Hoochie Coochie Man,” “Got My Mojo Workin,’” and “Mannish Boy.”

If you’ve never heard Muddy’s voice, listen to him here, singing
“…I spell mmm, aaa child, nnn
That represents man
No B, O child, Y…”

Waters can make you a believer about the good qualities of a mannish boy, in a Delta blues kind of way.

He was one of the genuine musicians who seriously influenced the likes of Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones—who took their name from the classic Muddy Waters song.

Waters didn’t have to wrap his lips around the microphone to sing his full-throated songs that invoke zest, and longing, and desperately earnest immersion in life, always up to the hilt….

His mojo never stopped working.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.