Music and Politics
Division I; Writing-Intensive;
Cross-listed as MUS178 / PSCI178
This is not the current course catalog
This course examines how musical sound and musical discourse change, enable, and inhibit citizen formation and the functioning of a well-ordered society. We will take a very wide definition of “politics,” as music can have political meaning and effects far beyond national anthems and propaganda. For instance, musical sound is often read as a metaphor for political structures: eighteenth-century commenters pointed out that string quartets mirrored reasoned, democratic discourse, and twentieth-century critics made similar arguments about free jazz. Beliefs about music can serve as a barometer for a society’s non-musical anxieties: Viennese fin-de-siècle critics worried that the sounds and stories of Strauss’s operas were causing moral decline, an argument that should be familiar to anyone who reads criticism of American popular music. Finally, a pervasive strand of Romantic thought holds that (good) music, by its nature, is apolitical-what might it mean to deny social relevance to an entire field of human expression? We will read classic philosophical texts on art and politics by Schiller, Kant, Schopenhauer, Marx, Adorno, and others, and pair them with contextual studies of works of Western classical music from the last two hundred years and popular music of the last hundred years.
The Class: Type: tutorial
Requirements/Evaluation: Students will be expected to write a 5-7 page paper every other week, and submit written commends on their tutorial partner's paper in off weeks.
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis; not available for the fifth course option
Enrollment Preference: first-year students
Distributions: Division I; Writing-Intensive;
Distribution Notes: meets Division 1 requirement if registration is under MUS; meets Division 2 requirement if registration is under PSCI