English R1A

Reading & Composition: American Song

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2012 Sullivan, Khalil
MWF 9-10 222 Wheeler

Book List

DuBois, WEB: Souls of Black Folk; Sandburg, Carl: The American Songbag;

Recommended: Hebdige, Dick: Subculture: the Meaning of Style; Lomax and Lomax, Alan and John: American Ballads and Folk SOngs

Other Readings and Media

The following texts are required of the course but are available for free online:

Carl Sandburg - the American Songbag
Paperback: 528 pages
Publisher: Mariner Books; Rei Sub edition (October 29, 1990)
ISBN-10: 9780156056502
WEB DuBois - Souls of Black Folk
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster; annotated edition edition (July 26, 2005)
ISBN-10: 1416500413


Course Description:  This course revolves around the popular American Song form from the mid-19th century to the present.  We will approach the American song not just as a historical artifact aided by inventions in technology (sheet music, phonograph, radio, television, film) but as cultural artifacts that circulate and evolve different locales and generations.  It is my hope that we can construct an analytical framework that will account not only for the lyrical content of the songs but the musical genres (or style) as well as the manner in which songs circulate.  Students will be assigned analytical readings from Dick Hebdige’s Subculture: The Meaning of Style, which focuses on the British punk and reggae scenes but provides an excellent starting point for generating theory.  Additionally, we will review songbooks that include lyrics and sheet music, but formal training in music is not required.  Many of the songs can be found in libraries and online audio archives.  Students should be warned that the content of some songs is explicit and includes a number of controversial narratives and images surrounding the black body, the female body, prison, and other marginalized institutions and figures in US American history.  

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