Course Schedule

Class and Reading Schedule

8/28: Introduction

9/2: Labor Day (no class)

9/4: Taking Popular Music Seriously, Studying Popular Music Historically


Unit I: Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Class in Popular Music

9/9: Race & The Question of Authenticity


  • Benjamin Filene, “Creating the Cult of Authenticity” in Filene, Romancing the Folk: Public Memory and American Roots Music (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000), 47-75.
  • Richard Wright, “Huddie Ledbetter, Famous Negro Folk Artist, Sings the Songs of Scottsboro and His People,” Daily Worker, August 12, 1937, 7.

9/11: Gender & Sexuality


  • Hazel Carby, “‘It Just Be’s Dat Way Sometime: The Sexual Politics of Women’s Blues,” in Robert G. O’Meally ed., The Jazz Cadence of American Culture (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998), 9-24.
  • Matt Guterl, “Josephine Baker’s Colonial Pastiche,” Black Camera (Summer 2010): 25-37.

9/16: Class


  • Daniel Cavicchi, “Introduction” and “Listening and Learning,” from Tramps Like Us: Music and Meaning among Springsteen Fans (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 3-21, 108-133.

9/18: Race, Gender, Class and Nation in Hamilton the Musical


  • Renee C. Romano, “Hamilton: A New American Civic Myth,” in Historians on Hamilton: How a Blockbuster Musical Is Restaging America’s Past (2018), 297-323.

9/23: Understanding Your Least Favorite Musicians and Their Fans

** Ethnographic Essay Assignment Due**

In class, we will discuss what you learned through this ethnographic exercise.

Unit II: Popular Music and Social Change

9/26: Ragtime, Jazz, and Racial Uplift


  • James Weldon Johnson, “Preface” to The Book of American Negro Poetry (1922), 9-22.
  • Ralph Ellison, “On Bird, Bird-Watching, and Jazz,” Saturday Review (July 28, 1962): 47-49.


9/30: Folk Revival, Rock & Roll, and Racial Integration


  • Anthony F. Macias, “Come On, Let’s Go: The Rock and Roll Era,” in Mexican American Mojo: Popular Music, Dance, and Urban Culture in Los Angeles, 1935–1968 (Durham: Duke University Press, 2008), 173-191.
  • Jack Hamilton, Just around Midnight: Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination, 26-85.

10/2: R&B, Motown, and the Civil Rights Movement


  • Ruth Feldstein, “‘More Than Just a Jazz Singer’: Nina Simone’s Border Crossings,” in How It Feels to Be Free: Black Women Entertainers and the Civil Rights Movement (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 84-112.
  • Jack Hamilton, Just Around Midnight, 121-168.

10/7: Musicals and Asian Immigration


  • Robert G. Lee, Orientals: Asian Americans in Popular Culture (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1999), 145-179.
  • Flower Drum Song fact sheet on Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, on American Musical Theater History.
  • John Kuo Wei Tchen, “Flower Drum Song: The Reviews Are In; Critics Clueless about Emergent American Sensibility,” AsianWeek, Dec. 13-Dec. 19, 2002.


  • Flower Drum Song (1961)

10/9: Vietnam War and Protest Music


10/14: Fall Break (No Class)

10/16: Girl Groups and Second Wave Feminism


  • Susan Douglas, “Why the Shirelles Mattered,” in Douglas, Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media (New York: Times Books, 1994), 83-98.
  • Cynthia J. Cyrus, “Selling an Image: Girl Groups of the 1960s,” Popular Music 22, no. 2 (May 2003): 173-193.
  • Hamilton, Just around Midnight, 169-212.

10/21: Disco and Gay Liberation Movement


  • Randy Jones and Mark Bego, “Stonewall, the 1970s, and Bisexual Chic” and “The Birth of Disco and the Formation of Village People,” Macho Man: The Disco Era and Gay America’s ‘Coming Out” (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2009), 49-64, 77-106.

10/23: Rap as Social Protest


  • Jeff Chang, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation, 1-85, 127-139, 231-297.

10/28: Midterm

Unit III: Popular Music and the United States in the World

10/30: Jazz as Cold War Diplomacy


  • Penny Von Eschen, “‘Satchmo Blows Up the World’: Jazz, Race, and Empire during the Cold War,” Here, “There and Everywhere”: The Foreign Politics of American Popular Culture (Hanover: University Press of New England, 2000), 163-178.

11/4: The British Invasion


  • Jack Hamilton, Just Around Midnight, 86-120, 246-276.

11/6: Rock ‘N’ Roll and Transsexuality across Borders


  • Joanne Meyerowitz, “‘Ex-GI Becomes Blonde Beauty’,” in How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009), 51-97.
  • Uta G. Poiger, “American Music, Cold War Liberalism, and German Identities,” in Heide Fehrenbach and Uta G. Poiger eds., Transactions, Transgressions, Transformations: American Culture in Western Europe and Japan (2000), 127-142.


  • John Cameron Mitchell, Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)

11/11: Classical Music and Border Crossings


  • Mari Yoshihara, “Roots and Routes of Asian Musicians,” in Musicians from a Different Shore: Asian Americans in Classical Music (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2007), 62-99.
  • Suki Kim “A Really Big Show: The New York Philharmonic’s Fantasia in North Korea,” Harper’s Magazine (December 2008), 61-70.

11/13: Music at the US-Mexico Border


  • Deborah Vargas, “Giving Us That Brown Soul: Selena’s Departures and Arrivals,” in Dissonant Divas in Chicana Music: The Limits of la Onda (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012 ), 179-215.

11/18: Global Hip Hop


  • Jeff Chang, “It’s a Hip-Hop World,” Foreign Policy, October 12, 2009.
  • H. Samy Alim, “Verbal mujahidin in the transglobal Hip Hop umma: Islam, discursive struggle, and the weapons of mass culture,” Roc the Mic Right: The Language of Hip Hop Culture (New York & London: Routledge, 2006), 20-50.
  • Ian Condry, “The Social Production of Difference: Imitation and Authenticity in Japanese Rap Music,” in Heide Fehrenbach and Uta G. Poiger eds., Transactions, Transgressions, Transformations: American Culture in Western Europe and Japan (2000), 166-182.

11/20: K-Pop in the United States


11/25: Music as Music

Readings TBD

12/2: **student presentations**

12/4: **student presentations**

12/9: Wrap Up. Final Review.