Spring 2011

ARTS 617
History of Rock and R&B

Charry,Eric S.

02/05/2011 - 03/05/2011
Note: Special Schedule 09:00 AM - 05:00 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.

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

Immersion courses are worth three units of credit and are academically as rigorous as a regular term course, only the class meetings are compressed into a very short time. Students interested in immersion courses should be aware that the syllabus usually requires that students prepare for up to a month prior to the first class meeting and complete assignments in the weeks following the course. Please click here for more information about immersion courses.

This course is not open to auditors.

The deadline to withdraw and receive a tuition refund for this course is Friday, January 28 at 5:00 pm. Please visit our website for a complete list of registration and withdrawal dates for this session.

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, THE POP, ROCK, AND SOUL READER - 2nd Edition, Oxford University Press

Reading materials are available at BROAD STREET BOOKS, 45 Broad Street, Middletown 860-685-7323 Order your books online.

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Contact glsinquire@wesleyan.edu to submit comments or suggestions. 
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