English R1B

Reading and Composition: Note new topic: Theorizing the Popular Song

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
5 Fall 2014 Sullivan, Khalil
TTh 9:30-11 225 Wheeler

Book List

Davis, Angela Y.: Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday; Miller, Karl Hagstrom: Segregating Sound: Inventing Folk and Pop Music in the Age of Jim Crow; Suisman, David: Selling Sounds: The Commercial Revolution in American Music

Other Readings and Media

Also, texts I will provide:

Matt Callahan, "When Music Mattered."  Ten Years that Shook the City, 1968-1978: City Lights: San Francisco (Handout)

Zoe Chance, "How Much Does It Cost to Make a Hit Song?"  NPR: All Things Considered. June 30, 2011 3:58 PM ET  http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2011/07/05/137530847/how-much-does-it-cost-to-make-a-hit-song  (Handout)

Tressie McMillin Cotton, "When Your (Brown) Body is a (White) Wonderland."  http://tressiemc.com/2013/08/27/when -your-brown-body-is-a-white-wonderland/ (Handout)

Peter C. Muir, Long Lost Blues: Popular Blues in America, 1850-1920. Chapter 3. (Handout)


In this course we will examine recent scholarship on the emergence of the popular recording industry in the early 20th century, paying particular attention to how the demands of a capitalist marketplace (mass reproduction, advertising, and distribution) put pressure on songwriting, authorship, performance, and audience receptivity. Students will be encouraged to theorize methods for conducting popular song research and contribute their knowledge of contemporary song performance and recordings. In addition to historical scholarship, we will also examine long and short-form music videos, recordings of live performcances, audio recordings, song lyrics, and blues poetry.

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