American Popular Music

Module code: W3075
Level 5
15 credits in spring semester
Teaching method: Seminar, Lecture
Assessment modes: Coursework

You’ll explore some of the repertoires that are at the heart of post-war American pop music, including mainstream pop, the blues, hip-hop, funk, country and rock.

You will consider the extent to which American popular music has influenced other pop music cultures, and how a sense of American identity is both fostered and communicated in its music. You’ll connect specific kinds of repertoire to major events in American history, such as the Civil Rights Movement.

The module is organised according to topics such as:

  • the music industry
  • the blues continuum
  • identity in country music
  • urban music
  • Afrofuturism.

By the end you will be able to identify and describe a range of American popular music genres, and position them in their socio-historical context. You will also apply the main analytic techniques that scholars use to explore American popular music.

In groups, you will offer an interpretive analysis of a popular song, and connect it explicitly to theoretical work on issues of American identity. You’ll develop skills in writing, research and oral presentation.

Module learning outcomes

  • Identify and describe a range of American popular music genres, and their relationship to the socio-historical context of the 20th century.
  • Analyse and critically evaluate texts, including musical recordings.
  • Apply a range of concepts, theories and approaches introduced in the module to explore cultural and musical aspects of American popular music.
  • Demonstrate skill in developing a written argument by selection of appropriate illustrative examples.