AMST 403(F) Senior Seminar: American Music
One way to write the cultural history of music is to trace the authority with which different people can say "`You are hurting my ears' at any given historical moment." So writes Carlo Rotella, one of the historians whose work we will read in this course as we approach American popular music as an object of cultural studies. We will study particular performers and styles (e.g. Elvis, Selena, punk and hip hop), but we do so in the context of the histories of labor; social migration; political and economic shifts; ideologies; and of the culture industry. Moving from the late-nineteenth-century to the present, and through agrarian to industrial to postindustrial social configurations, we will study music as a means of expressing resistance and accommodation and as the basis of community-formation and disruption. We will pay special attention to the recent recovery by American musicians of folk musics originating outside of American borders: Celtic, African and Cuban in the context of global capitalism and American hegemony. Texts include works of history, cultural criticism and ethnomusicology; audio performance recorded in the field, in the studio, and in concert; and documentary and fiction films. Format: seminar. Evaluation will be based on a number of written assignments. Prerequisites: prior work in American Studies. Enrollment limit: 19 (expected: 19). Preference given to senior American Studies majors.