Nov 30, 2023  
College Catalog 2011-2012 
College Catalog 2011-2012 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

AMST 350 - American Pop, Rockabilly, and Soul, 1954-64

Cross-Listed as MUSI 350 
This course provides an in-depth look at one crucial period in American popular-music history, addressing in particular the roles that racial categories played in the production, dissemination, and reception of music in three dominant streams within the culture of American popular music. Topics for close study will include: Sam Philips’s practices of recording of black and white musicians for Sun Studios in Memphis during the 1950s; the early “crossover” hits of such recording arts as Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley; the doo wop repertory and theories of whiteness; issues of race, gender, and sexuality in the music of the “girl groups”; and a comparison of white-owned Stax Records and black-owned Motown in the early-mid 1960s. The course will move from a broad overview of the era at the beginning of the semester, through a discussion of conceptual, critical, and methodological issues, and into more detailed case studies of various recording artists, institutions, and repertories. The course aims to examine ways in which social and historical constructions of race operated on many levels, from the national industry (e.g., the Billboard charts), to regional and local scenes (e.g., the studio and “space/place” theory), to performative, technological, and aesthetic realms that intersect directly with issues of subjectivity and identity. This course is intended for upper-level majors and minors in Music and American Studies. It is designated as a seminar and not a lecture course; students will be responsible for leading class on a regular basis, coming prepared with handouts and sets of questions/topics for discussion. Generally offered alternate years. (4 Credits)