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Title: Music of Politics
Course Section Number: MUS-204-01
Department: Music
Description: The defining element of a 'Wabash Man' is a song. If you met every graduate of our college, you would find rich people and poor people, black people and white people, athletes and klutzes, people from dozens of countries around the world, and even a few women. But you would be hard pressed to find a Wabash graduate who can't at least stumble through the words of "Old Wabash." Music is about inclusion. But by defining who belongs, it also defines those who don't. Most Americans struggle to sing the Star Spangled Banner. But even those who don't speak English can recite the first four words! If border patrol agents used the words to "Yankee Doodle" as a shibboleth for entry, it's hard to see how a non-citizen would ever get in. Music is inherently political. Even when it's not explicitly so, it reflects the society that produces it, the audience that listens to it, and the means by which the former finds the latter. Early German nationalists knew that Beethoven could help them define who was German. Later German nationalists knew that too. African Americans and Jews took music from the plantations and shtetls they left behind, fashioning it into Blues and Jazz when Classical conservatories wouldn't teach them and 'respectable' concert halls wouldn't let them perform. They found a wider audience when people like Elvis Presley 'borrowed' their songs, recorded them, and made them famous. That music went on to define a generation defined by its counter-cultural ethos - and was brought back to Africa and the Caribbean (from whence it once came) where national heroes like Bob Marley and Fela Kuti used it to resist colonial oppression and dictatorship. Modern leaders listened and learned from this, which is why Korea promotes K-pop and Putin imprisons Pussy Riot. It's also why Bruce Springsteen objected to Ronald Reagan's use of "Born in the USA" - and why Ronald Reagan evidently didn't know (or didn't care about) the words. This course will focus on musical repertory related to specific regimes, societies, movements, and historical periods. The course will require students to examine music as propaganda and as protest. It will also invite students to engage with contemporary debates on such issues as censorship, cultural appropriation, political violence, and intellectual property. Of particular interest will be the role of music in the development of 19th Century European Nationalisms (as with Beethoven and Wagner); the inseparable relationship between music and politics in African and Afro-Caribbean anti-Imperialism (as with Fela Kuti and Bob Marley); and the role of music in the American Civil Rights movement. Our goal is for students to understand the relationship between music and politics both historically and in their own lifetimes, equipping them to analyze music that is both political and politicized
Credits: 1.00
Start Date: January 17, 2022
End Date: May 7, 2022
Meeting Information: 02/07/2022-05/06/2022 Lecture Monday, Wednesday, Friday 03:10PM - 04:00PM, Center Hall, Room 215
Faculty: Ables, Mollie - Hollander, Ethan

Course Status & Cross-Listings

Cross-list Group Capacity: 20
Cross-list Group Student Count: 15
Calculated Course Status: OPEN
Section Name/Title Status Dept. Capacity Enrolled/