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MUS 211
Music, Nationalism, and Popular Culture Fall 2020
Division I Difference, Power, and Equity

Class Details

This course surveys the manner, function, and contexts through which sound and ideas of national belonging are linked. We will consider influential and iconic musicians (Umm Kalthoum, Amalia Rodriguez, Bob Marley, Carlos Gardel), international forums for the expression of national sentiment (the Olympics, Miss Universe and Eurovision competitions), and a wide range of instruments, genres, and anthems that are strong conduits for national sentiment. Drawing on the work of critical theorists including Benedict Anderson, Michael Herzfeld, and Ernest Gellner, we will pursue a number of analytical questions: What parallels exist between musical and political structure? How do nations adjust as their policies and demographics change? How are cultural forms implicated in postcolonial nation building projects? What marginal populations or expressive forms are included, excluded, or appropriated in the formation of national identity? Finally, what differences emerge as we change our focus from a national to an international perspective, or from officially endorsed representations of national culture to unofficial popular forms of entertainment?
The Class: Format: seminar; This course is a hybrid model, involving a combination of exclusively remote all-class meetings and small group meetings in which remote students and in-person students will meet separately.
Limit: 15
Expected: 15
Class#: 2519
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Class participation, regular short (1 page) written responses, two 5- to 6-page papers, a Final Paper/Project
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: Upperclass students and music majors, international students who need to fulfill in-person requirement.
Distributions: Division I Difference, Power, and Equity
DPE Notes: Owing to its global focus and attention to power and privilege in political and musical structures, this course meets the DPE requirement. Topics include the use of music for social control and subversion in Mobutu's Zaire, its affective power in U.S. campaign ads, and the ways in which constructions of 'folk music' impact power differentials in a national political structure. Assignments help students develop an awareness of the specific strategies whereby music mobilizes national ideologies.

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