Fall 2017

Sounding Race in American Popular Music, 1955-Present

Listed in: Music, as MUSI-440


Amy M. Coddington (Section 01)


This course explores how American popular music of the last sixty years sounds the racial identity of its performers and consumers. For the last century, the American popular music industry has promoted and marketed certain musical styles to specific racial demographics, a business practice that has profoundly influenced the sound of popular music. The course will begin by exploring the origins of this industry practice, and will then fast-forward to analyzing how this industry practice has affected the production and meaning of popular music from the 1950s into the present, through rock and roll, soul, country, hip hop, and more. Combining historical and cultural inquiries with the analysis of recorded music, students in this course will examine how popular musicians sound their racial identity while simultaneously resisting racialized essentialism, analyze how musical sounds are shaped by the racial politics of their specific cultural context, and evaluate how the music industry encourages and challenges racial inequality. Seminar work will culminate in a creative research project designed in consultation with the professor. Fulfills either the departmental seminar requirement or the comprehensive exam requirement for the major.

Requisite: Music 111 or consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Amy Coddington.


Attention to Issues of Class, Attention to Issues of Gender and Sexuality, Attention to Issues of Race, Attention to Research, Attention to Speaking, Attention to Writing


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Fall 2018