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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Spring 2008

T C 357 • Music and Politics

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
43725 W
2:00 PM-5:00 PM
MRH M3.112

Course Description

This course examines intersections between music and politics over the past hundred years, from the First World War to the Iraq War. It has long been recognized that music has a special capacity to sway individuals, to mobilize a sense of group or national identity, to rouse emotions, and even to move people to action. But unlike literature, poetry or film, music's ability to convey a precise meaning - particularly when it lacks an accompanying text or lyrics - is limited. The resulting tension, between music's expressive powers and its opacity as a bearer of meaning, has made it all the more contentious as an object of political contest.

To address the different ways in which music has been put to use by various political agents - individuals, mass movements, political parties and the state - this course will alternate theoretical readings in cultural politics with selected 'case studies.' The latter will examine specific instances where music has been mobilized in pursuit of a cause, and will include such topics as: the popular song's participation in drumming up patriotic sentiment in France during World War I; the denunciation (and rehabilitation) of Shostakovich's compositions under Stalin; state policy toward music in Nazi Germany; the enlistment of music by both the United States and the Soviet Union during the 'cultural cold war'; the relation between free jazz and the black power movement in the sixties; the folk music revival in the 1950s and 1960s; the suppression of Western music in China during the Cultural Revolution; and country music's role in either rallying public support for or protesting against the current war in Iraq.


A course packet that will contain essays, articles and other materials.
Eyerman and Jamieson, Music and Social Movements
Regina Sweeney, Singing Our Way to Victory: French Cultural Politics and Music during the Great War
Michael Kater, The Twisted Muse: Musicians and their Music in the Third Reich
Robert Cantwell, When We Were Good: The Folk Revival
Ritter and Daughtry, Music in the Post-9/11 World


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