Spring 2007
Fully Enrolled

ARTS 617
History of Rock and R&B

Charry,Eric S.

01/22/2007 - 05/05/2007
Tuesday 06:30 PM - 09:00 PM

Music Studios 301

Special Weekend Immersion Schedule: Class will meet January 19, and February 9, 10, and 23. (Makeup classes in case of snow are scheduled in advance for January 20 and/or February 24.)

In this course we will study the history and culture of rock and r&b (rhythm & blues)--broadly defined as a conglomeration of loosely related American popular musical styles--from their origins in the 1940s and 50s through the early 1990s. Several parallel goals will be pursued. We will become literate in the broad range of their constituent traditions, studying primary artists, their classic works, and the web of connections that link them. We will engage with a variety of theoretical and journalistic approaches to understanding the music and its culture over the past six decades, confronting such issues as race relations and identities, youth culture and its relationship to American popular culture, popular music as a creative, cultural, and social force, and the economics of the music industry. And we will become familiar with, critically interpret, and evaluate the significant body of film and video that has been concerned with the music.

A recent reader in the field (Brackett) will provide the basic history and issues, serving as our initial entry point. A 10-part video series produced in the mid-1990s (WGBH/BBC)--available online for independent viewing--will enhance this history and serve as a framework for critical discussion of how a seemingly unwieldy expressive form such as rock can be encapsulated, understood, and formally taught. Additional articles and chapters will be available via Olin Library's electronic reserve.

Readings include Reebee Garofalo, Rockin' Out (Prentice Hall); David Brackett, The Pop, Rock, and Soul Reader (Oxford University Press); Forman and Neal, The Hip-Hop Studies Reader (Routledge); and other articles to be put on electronic reserve.

Classes will consist of guided listening (about 120 pieces in all), viewing of video excerpts, weekly student presentations (in rotation), and discussion. Assignments include several short (2-page) essays on the readings, student presentations based on independent supplemental research, and midterm and final writing projects to be chosen in consultation with the instructor.

Eric Charry (B.M., M.M. New England Conservatory of Music; M.F.A., Ph.D. Princeton University) is professor of music. He is author of Mande Music: Traditional and Modern Music of the Maninka and Mandinka of Western Africa (University of Chicago Press, 2000), and editor of Hip Hop Africa: New African Music in a Globalizing World (Indiana University Press, 2012). He has two books in progress: The Emergence of an Avant Garde in Jazz, 1956-1965 and Downtown: Music as a Cultural Force, New York in the 1950s and 60s. Click here for more information about Eric Charry and click here for more information about his work.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
David Brackett, POP, ROCK & SOUL READER (Oxford University Press), Paperback

Reebee Garofalo, ROCKIN' OUT, 3rd Edition (Prentice Hall), Paperback


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