Spring 2025

Rhythm & Blues Music and Culture

Listed in: American Studies, as AMST-377


Aneeka A. Henderson (Section 01)


Aretha Franklin insists that rhythm and blues music is “the truth.” With Franklin’s profound theory as its anchor, this seminar explores how 1990s rhythm and blues music offers truth, metaphor, narrative, and history about African American life and culture. We will explore how canonical artists from the 1990s such as Mary J. Blige, Aaliyah, and Brandy as well as “girl groups” such as Total, Xscape, and SWV dramatically transformed American culture. Taking cues from existing scholarship on Black music and culture, we will parse how rhythm and blues artists redefined and remixed various forms of creative expression, including music, visual art, hair, and fashion.

Limited to 15 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Spring semester.  Professor Henderson.

How to handle overenrollment: If over-enrolled, students will be asked to provide a short statement about their interest in taking the course.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: archival research, independent research, oral presentations, collaborative research, group work, close reading and visual analysis, data collection and analysis, digital mapping and storytelling, and assessment: emphasis on written work, reading.

Course Materials


Other years: Offered in Fall 2023