This course examines diverse American popular music styles and genres in their historical and socio-political contexts. Following a rough chronology, the course centers African American musicians as creators and innovators of a vast range of music forms that make up the foundations of contemporary popular music in the United States and across the globe. We will consider the following questions: Does popular music in America merely entertain us, or does the music we listen to do something more and touch upon issues in our lives? Can it do both simultaneously? Can popular artists influence politics, or is that too much to ask of them?In order to address these and other questions, we will interrogate how musicians, performers, scholars, listeners, and consumers experience, participate in and think about various music and dance practices, from slave music and minstrelsy, the blues, jazz, and rock and roll to reggae and hip hop. Historically and through the present, we will consider how African American musicians, as well as musicians and performers from other underrepresented groups, have so often been excluded from reaping the economic and political benefits of music industries, and how they have contested injustice on multiple levels. This means that our core questions ask what musical practices can reveal about relations of race, gender, class and belonging in this country. Readings are drawn from the fields of musicology, ethnomusicology, popular music studies, and dance studies. Prerequisite: Music 121 or permission of instructor.
Course Attributes: EN H; BU Hum; AS HUM; FA HUM; AR HUM