BCULST 584 Topics in Media Culture

Cultural Politics of Popular Music

Susan Juanita Harewood

SLN: 11103

Th, 5:45-10:00pm

This course is an invitation to think critically about popular music and the political projects that are articulated to it. Though popular music is often dismissed as frivolous, this attitude exists side by side with our commonly held sense that music is special and that it has the power to transform society for good or ill. But what is it about popular music that we assume to be so transformative? Where, when and how are the political projects of popular music brought into being? How do our notions of what constitutes ‘political action’ shape how we think about the political work we believe music can or cannot perform? Taking cultural studies’ dedication to intellectual bricolage seriously, this course draws from a variety of disciplinary perspectives each of which contemplates the complex work that popular music performs in our society. Through readings, listening assignments, analysis of mediated and live musical performances and through careful consideration of their own everyday practices of music consumption and production students will examine how musicians, producers, fans, corporations, activists and policy makers create meaning through their uses of music.