Popular music has been a fertile site for the construction and expression of gender, race, and sexuality. Using case studies of musicians and vocalists associated with genres such as rock, pop, rhythm & blues, and dance music, we will consider the ways a cross-section of twentieth century artists have used musical sound and performance style to play with, trouble, and rewrite prevailing notions of appropriate sonic and social behavior. We will listen to recordings; view music videos, concert performances, and television appearances; and read academic and journalistic accounts of the artists in order to develop an understanding of the controversies and new possibilities associated with their experiments. Possible focal artists include rhythm & blues singer Big Mama Thornton, hard rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix, glam rock vocalist David Bowie, disco star Sylvester, hard rock band the Runaways, “Queen of Rock” Tina Turner, and musicians associated with the Riot Grrrl movement.
AREA OF STUDY: MUSIC, HISTORY AND CULTURES