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

Fall 2009

AMS 370 • Popular Music, Race, and the U.S. South-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
29972 MW
5:00 PM-6:30 PM
bur 436b

Course Description

Jazz, blues, country, rockabilly, and rock. Soul, gospel, and funk. Folk, bluegrass, and zydeco. Amongst the genres of American popular music, styles heavily associated with the U. S. South tend to predominate, and the history of each seems to be entangled with that region's contentious racial history. From the antebellum slave regime to the Jim Crow strictures of white supremacy to the modern civil rights movement, musical performance and reception has constituted, by turns, a site of resistance, escape, ambivalence, expression, communication, and power. This course will engage in a history of modern musical production and performance in the South that involves close readings of musical texts and local scenes while also examining the hagiography and mythic constructions of the South, its music, and its people on the part of white rock criticism (think of the origin stories attached to Robert Johnson and the blues, or Elvis Presley and rock 'n’ roll). This is not only a course, in other words, for talking, thinking, and writing about popular music and its wider historical contexts, but a course for talking, thinking, and writing about those authors who talk, think, and write about popular music and its wider historical contexts, both inside and outside the academy.

Grading Policy

Mid Term Exam 20% Final Exam 20% Reading Response Paper 15% Research Paper 35% Participation and Attendance 10%


Possible Texts Amiri Baraka, Blues People Jon Cruz, Culture on the Margins: The Black Spiritual and the Rise of American Cultural Interpretation Pete Daniel, Lost Revolutions: The South in the 1950s Greil Marcus, The Old Weird America: The World of Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes Richard Peterson, Creating Country Music: Fabricating Authenticity Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather Elijah Wald, Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues Brian Ward, Just My Soul Responding: Rhythm and Blues, Black Consciousness, and Race Relations Course packet with selections from Michael Bane, Lester Bangs, Sidney Bechet, Barbara Ching, Joel Dinerstein, W. E. B. Du Bois, Aaron Fox, Paul Gilroy, Alan Govenar, Peter Guralnick, Alan Lomax, John Lomax, Eric Lott, Bill Malone, Manuel Peña, Richard Peterson, Jan Reid, Cecilia Tichi, and Gayle Wald, among others.


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