English R1A

Reading and Composition: note new topic: US Popular Song & the Problem of Authenticity

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
6 Spring 2015 Sullivan, Khalil
TTh 12:30-2 222 Wheeler

Book List

Miller, Karl: Segregating Sounds; Suisman, David: Selling Sounds

Other Readings and Media

Additional essays and various 20th- and 21st-century US American popular songs (handouts to be provided)


Note new course description (and book list and instructor):

While literary scholarship can speak freely about the death of the author, popular music must tread with caution. In popular music, performers stand in for songwriters, imploring audiences to witness and believe. 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 the identities and roles performers can exercise. Consequently, debates ensued, and we will spend time examining the discourse around contemporary popular song performance and problems of identity and authenticity. Students will be encouraged to theorize methods for analyzing popular song media, both song lyrics, music videos, and promotional material.

As part of the University's Reading and Composition requirement, this course will help you develop your reading and writing skills, as well as your strategies for making effective arguments. You will write and revise a series of short papers over the course of the term, adding up to a total of 32 pages.


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