Textbook Update and Reading for Next Week

The campus bookstore now has copies of Rockin’ The Boat. They ordered fewer books than there are students in the class, so get them while the getting is hot. The other text is on order and should be there within the next week. Those of you who are not able to get the book through the bookstore should contact me privately and we will work out what to do next.

For next Monday, we will be reading Thomas Turino’s chapter, “Music and Political Movements” from Music and Social Life. (This is from the same textbook I used in last spring’s “Music and the Global Metropolis.”) Turino’s juxtaposition of two famous instances of music and political change in the 20th century is jarring, but it makes sense for the particular aspects he discusses.

For Thursday, will tackle two chapters Jacques Attali’s Noise: The Political Economy of Music from 1977 (translated in English in 1985). It is a longer and more challenging chunk of reading, but Noise is full of notable quotes. For the first assigned chapter, focus your attention on the front part of the chapter where he lays out his argument before moving on to the rest. Remember that Attali’s is one of the optional texts for the first writing assignment, so it will yield rewards to invest a fair amount of time for reading his tome.


Video Responses to Yesterday’s Class

Yesterday’s discussion on pop-star activism (and earnestness) since the age of MTV inspired some of you to make connections to other artists you like. Here are some video responses:

Comedian Tim Minchin’s, “F*ck The Poor,” is a biting critique of self-serving attitudes towards charity and the poor. Is it satire or is it genuine?

Heavy Metal artists also had their own version of “We Are the World” in Hear N’ Aid’s “Stars”. The chorus, “We are stars,” conveys a very different sentiment than “We are the world.”

Keep ’em coming guys…

Music for Wk 1: Social Change and the Music Industry

As promised, here is a link to the listening for the first week. I have included three multi-artist activist recordings. While “We Are The World” is the most famous of the bunch, there is also “Sun City” and Sean Lennon’s remake of “Give Peace a Chance,” a little-remembered protest of the first Gulf War (the really short, popular gulf war). For many of these multi-artist recordings, it can be a fun game of pop music trivia to figure out whose voice you hear for a verse without seeing the accompanying video.

Mega-Events and Pop Star Activism


For Thursday, we are reading Reebee Garofalo’s essay, “Understanding Mega-Events: If We Are the World, Then How Do We Change It,” from Rockin’ The Boat: Mass Music and Mass Movements. Apologies again for the strangeness of the PDF. I will replace it with a better PDF if possible. As you read, see if you can connect the tensions at the heart of pop star activism with the broader goal of social change.

Mini-Class in Blog Form

Mini-classes are next week, and thus, we professors and instructors must get the word out to enterprising students about our courses. I’m assuming that if you found the class blog, you have already taken a class with me or you found the link on NewDLE. Welcome! I’m scheduled to give my mini-class on Thursday, January 31st, at 11:20AM. Still, some advance information is useful, no?

Required Texts:

Robin Moore, Music and Revolution: Cultural Change in Socialist Cuba (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006).

Reebee Garofalo, Rockin’ The Boat: Mass Music and Mass Movements (Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 1992).

I’m still waiting for South End Press to acknowledge that I have requested the book for the class. We shall see how that goes…

Course Description:

Every day, diverse groups of people attempt to challenge political and social injustice through musical expression. This course explores the efforts to effect social change from global musical communities in the 20th century and beyond. We will utilize an interdisciplinary framework to study musical examples and their accompanying sounds and silences from persons who have sought to address different kinds of social injustice (racial, ethnic, economic, and more). After examining theoretical writings on the efficacy of music as an agent of social change and its role community development, we will explore cases where music was a prominent voice in social protest movements. We will also address how music has expressed the tensions between different racial and ethnic groups, social classes, and people with differing political ideologies. We will cover examples from Chile, China, Cuba, England, France, Greece, Ireland, Japan, Somalia, South Africa, the United States, and Brazil among others. Students will have the opportunity to produce creative projects in place of written assignments.

Course Structure and Evaluations:

Music and Social Protest is comprised of 4 units (2 per module):

  1. a theoretical unit on ideology, politics, and music
  2. music’s role in political revolutions (focusing on Iran, France, Cuba, and the so-called “Arab Spring”)
  3. music as a response to censorship and political oppression
  4. protest music from the United States

Evaluations will be based on:

  • 3 brief papers from the first module (20 percent)
  • work towards a larger project in the second module, including proposal, a first draft, and a final draft (55 percent)
  • class participation (25 percent)

Projects can be creative or they can be traditional academic papers based on either historical research or a mini-ethnography.

Class FAQ’s:

  • What is your capping policy? Third and fourth year students get priority, as do students who have made an effort to lobby for this class as part of the spring course offerings. (Thanks everyone!) Beyond the 5-6 students who have already contacted me to be in the class, I’ll be accepting up to 15 more, based on a) arriving on-time the first day of class, b) AOC (I want to balance Music, Humanities, Sociology, Political Science, and History), and c) academic record.
  • Are there any prerequisites? No, but you should have prior experience with college-level writing.
  • What if I can’t afford to buy the textbooks? Both texts are available for up to half the retail price through online retailers such as Amazon. Music and Revolution is also available as an eBook and it will be on reserve in the library. [ETA: Rockin’ The Boat is available for loans through the internet archive. You must join to read the book online.]
  • How can I contact you outside of class? I will only be on campus Mondays and Thursdays prior to class (I teach a different class at Ringling College) until the end of April. If you need to meet with me and those times don’t work, contact me online. I’m a social network butterfly (excluding facebook).
  • I would like this class to count towards the Gender Studies program. Will that work? Yes, especially if you do your final project on a project directly involving gender.

Syllabus Draft and Music Poll

Here is a draft of the syllabus. I’ll be posting more information prior to mini-classes.

Also, please help me pick the best way to distribute music this term.