E 379S • Senior Seminar
1:00 PM-2:00 PM
Neither E 376L (Topic 8: Popular Music and Youth Subcultures) nor E 679HA (Topic: Popular Music and Youth Subcultures) may also be counted.
Given the near-total neglect of popular music by musicology, the academic study of popular music has been dispersed across a number of fields, including anthropology, communications, English, history, and sociology. I propose in this course to survey the variety of serious analytical approaches to popular music, from the formalist work of musicologists to anthropological studies like Sara Cohen's Rock Music in Liverpool. We will take the tripartite approach of cultural studies, by covering production, texts, and audiences. Student interest will dictate the genres covered. This will not be a "history of rock and roll" class: I'm interested not in what year Elvis emerged, but in the question of what a sophisticated critical approach has to offer followers of contemporary musicand I should note that I'm not all that certain academics have much to offer.
Given my doubts about academic approaches to popular music, I will try to make the course of considerable utility, odd as it may sound, to the study of literature. In discussing subcultures, for example, we will examine the social uses of texts both musical and literary (along the lines of cultural studies). In paying close attention to musical form or style (especially the voice), we will also develop a strong text-based critical approach.
Written work: Three 5-6-page papers, with substantial revision of the first two, culminating in an 18-to-25-page term paper 85%
Class participation (including at least one oral presentation) 15%
Simon Frith and Andrew Goodwin, On Record
Excerpted in coursepack: Simon Frith, Performing Rites; Greil Marcus, Lipstick Traces; Susan McClary, Feminine Endings; Tricia Rose, Black Noise; Robert Peterson, Creating Country Music; Dick Hebdige, Subculture: The Meaning of Style; Deena Weinstein, Heavy Metal