MUS 210T(S) American Pop Orientalism (W)

This tutorial will investigate the representation of Asians and Asian Americans in American popular culture since the late nineteenth century. Our focus will be on music's role in Orientalist representation in a wide variety of media, including Hollywood film, television, popular song, Broadway musicals, and novels. We will begin with major texts in cultural theory (Said, Bhabha, Clifford, Spivak) and will attempt throughout the semester to revise and refine their tenets. Can American Orientalism be distinguished in any fundamental way from nineteenth-century European imperialist thought? How does Orientalist representation calibrate when the "exotic others" being represented are themselves Americans? Our own critical thought will be sharpened through analysis and interpretation of specific works, such as Madame Butterfly, "Chinatown, My Chinatown," The King and I, Sayonara, M. Butterfly, Aladdin, and Weezer's Pinkerton. We will end the semester by considering the current state of Orientalism in American popular culture. Format: tutorial. Evaluation will be based on five 5- to 6-page essays and on the quality of the student's critical engagement with the work of his/her colleagues. Previous related coursework and/or musical experience is desirable, but is not required. Enrollment limit: 10 (expected:10). Preference to sophomores and juniors.