MUS 279
American Pop Orientalism Fall 2014
Division I Writing Skills Exploring Diversity Initiative
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Class Details

This tutorial will investigate the representation of Asians and Asian Americans in American popular culture since the late nineteenth century. Our focus will be on music’s role in Orientalist representation in a wide variety of media, including Hollywood film, television, popular song, Broadway musicals, and novels. We will begin with major texts in cultural theory (Said, Bhabha) and will attempt throughout the semester to revise and refine their tenets. Can American Orientalism be distinguished in any fundamental way from nineteenth-century European imperialist thought? How does Orientalist representation calibrate when the “exotic others” being represented are themselves Americans? Our own critical thought will be sharpened through analysis and interpretation of specific works, such as Madame Butterfly, “Chinatown, My Chinatown,” The King and I, Sayonara, Flower Drum Song, Miss Saigon, Rising Sun, M. Butterfly, Aladdin, and Weezer’s Pinkerton. We will end the semester by considering the current state of Orientalism in American popular culture. This course satisfies the EDI requirement by considering diversity in relation to the representation of specific minority groups within American popular culture and the attempts by members of those minority groups to participate in mainstream culture. We will also engage with critical theories offered by scholars for understanding the dynamics of these representations and this cultural participation.
The Class: Format: tutorial
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 2387
Grading: OPG
Requirements/Evaluation: evaluation will be based on five 5- to 6-page essays and on the quality of the student's critical engagement with the work of his/her colleagues
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis
Prerequisites: previous related coursework and/or musical experience is desirable, but is not required
Enrollment Preferences: sophomores and juniors
Unit Notes: MUS Group A Electives--classes 2015 and 2016
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills Exploring Diversity Initiative
Attributes: ASAM Core Courses

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