HIST-LIT 90ED: Music and Resistance in the Modern United States





Instructor: Lucy Caplan
Meeting time: Monday/Wednesday, 12:00 - 1:15

Music and ResistanceWhile music is often touted as a “universal language” that generates social harmony, it also expresses dissent from and resistance to the status quo. This course asks how music works as a type of social and political resistance, and what aesthetic and formal qualities enable it to do so. We will explore the relationship between music and resistance in the twentieth- and twenty-first-century United States, in contexts that range from Ma Rainey’s defiant blues songs to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s blockbuster musical Hamilton. Focusing especially (but not exclusively) on African American music and musicians, we will consider how music informs modes of resistance tied to race, class, gender, and sexuality. In addition to asking how music can resist extant arrangements of power, we will also consider the types of futures that music can imagine. By examining an array of historical sources, theoretical texts, and sonic archives, students will develop the ability to analyze music from a critical and interdisciplinary perspective. There will also be opportunities for hands-on and creative projects.