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Steven Hoelscher, Chair Burdine 437, Mailcode B7100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-7277

Fall 2009

AMS 311s • The Global Power of the Funk-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
29825 to 29830 Multiple Sections

Course Description

Most Americans even casually familiar with the African-American musical styles of blues and jazz have an understanding that the music is somehow rooted in "African traditions" via the legacy of slavery. However, rather than starting at that murky origin point, this class begins from another direction. The question is, how have African-derived musical forms been disseminated around the world in the 20th century? Since this is an American Studies class, it is perhaps fitting that African-American music is afforded a large part of this story, but this is not intended to be at the expense of Afro-Caribbean, Afro-British, or actual African styles. Instead, this class looks at the ways in which diverse genres and subgenres of music have crisscrossed the globe, how specific historical conditions made that possible, and what increasingly hybridized forms of African-derived popular music say about local, national, and world culture in a globalized marketplace.

The first and foremost goal of this class is to familiarize you with a number of musical genres and subgenres of African-derived music. The second goal is to provide a historical context for the conditions that gave rise to these styles. The third goal is to provide you with the tools to help you to think critically about how these styles work and what they might mean in a local, national, and global context. The fourth goal is to help you conceptualize the connectivity of musical styles across vast geographic space and chronological timeĀ—to see how Malian griots relate to Delta Blues singers, how blues singers relate to Algerian Rai, to see how the blues relates to hip hop, and to see how hip hop and Rai come together to form the music of the North African immigrants who fill the Paris suburbs. If that sounds complicated and full of unfamiliar terms, don't worry: it IS complicated. Hopefully, over the course of the semester, you will learn the terms and develop the skills necessary to deal with those complications.

Grading Policy

Discussion: 30% 4 Response Papers: 35% Final Research Paper: 35%


Possible Texts Each week, several recordings will be assigned, and these recordings will be accompanied by set of readings and occasionally a film. Penny Von Eschen, Satchmo Blows Up the World Leonard Barrett, The Rastafarians Dick Hebdige, Cut 'n' Mix Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities Sola Olorynyomi, Afrobeat: Fela and the Imagined Continent Timothy Taylor, Global Pop


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