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Local Writer Speaks to Honors College Students

Journalist and Critic Alex V. Cook Talks About the Avant-Garde
Local Writer Speaks to Honors College Students

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Baton Rouge based author, journalist and critic Alex V. Cook recently delivered a lecture on the secret history of contemporary music to the Honors College students enrolled in Honors 2021,"Avant-Garde: Its Myths and Functions."

Cook talked about the key albums, key musicians and key songs of the past quarter century that have influenced modern-day music.  He focused specifically on the relationship between classical minimalism and minimalist psychedelic funk, discussing albums such as Public Enemy’s “Fear of a Black Planet.”

Cook, whose work has appeared in The Believer, The Oxford American, DownBeat, Front Porch, Paste Magazine, Hails and Horns, and The Wire, is the music editor for, as well as a frequent contributor to 225 Magazine, OffBeat and Country Roads. His first collection of essays was published by Side Cartel in 2006, and his second book will be published in Spring 2012 by LSU Press.

“The class looks at how developments in art over the last 120 years can be divided into modern and postmodern art … it gives people a basis to understand how artwork got to be where it is now,” said William G. Osborne III, Honors College Director of Curriculum Development who teaches the class on the Avant-Garde. 

In addition to discussing the genealogy of contemporary music, Cook also spoke about his own approaches to writing criticism.

“It wasn’t a workshop, but it was a sneak peek view of how he writes criticism,” said Osborne. “He talked about the approach of putting something in context, how to organize your thoughts and reactions, and how to do appropriate research.”

Osborne said that his students really enjoyed the lecture, which directly related to what they had been studying in class.

“Alex is one of the cleverest human beings on the planet,” he said. “So the students were just as often cackling as they were saying, ‘This is so cool.’  He’s a very funny guy, as well as being very erudite.”