Summer research focuses on bluegrass music

July 9, 2014 11:00 AM

Barri Bronston

For as far back as she can remember, Juliana Stricklen has been fascinated with the music of Appalachia, especially old-time string bands and bluegrass. The Tulane University senior grew up in a musical family in Appalachia country, with the mandolin her instrument of choice.

Student Juliana Stricklen

For senior Juliana Stricklen, who grew up in Appalachia, summer is a time for researching the history of bluegrass music, thanks to the Jean Danielson Scholarship. (Photo from Juliana Stricklen)

So captivated is she with Appalachian music that she is spending the summer researching bluegrass music, the history of “hillbilly records” and contemporary understandings of Appalachian heritage through music. She credits the Jean Danielson Scholarship for making it all possible.

Stricklen is one of two recipients of the scholarship, named for the late Jean Danielson, a.k.a. Dean Jean, Tulane’s legendary honors dean who devoted her career to helping students pursue challenging opportunities inside and outside the classroom. The scholarships are worth up to $2,000.

The other winner is sophomore Zoe Krulak-Palmer, a public health major who is researching Chagas disease, a neglected tropical disease, in Merida, Mexico. She is spending the summer working in a lab that focuses on preventing transmission of the disease.

Stricklen is majoring in communication, musical cultures of the Gulf South and theater design and production. Her research, which will be the basis for her undergraduate honors thesis, includes work in various archives and interviews with scholars, musicians and festival participants in Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.

“I am interested in how Appalachian music has been marketed as ‘hillbilly’ music and how music has been used to both perpetuate and challenge stereotypes of regional poverty,” Stricklen said.

She has already begun developing a web site -- -- that will include photos and interviews from her travels. And she plans to make an interactive Wikipedia-based website that includes music history timelines and information on such musical genres as bluegrass, old time, gospel, prison songs, jazz and blues.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000