21G.221 | Spring 2019 | Undergraduate

Communicating in American Culture(s)

Topics to Guide Reading and Discussion

Communicating through the American Soundtrack

Study the materials and be prepared to contribute in an informed discussion of the following topics and questions: 

  1. What does Martha Bayles mean by the terms popular culture and high culture, and why is this distinction important in her examination of American music?
  2. How did attitudes toward culture differ between colonial America and post-Revolution America?
  3. Why is jazz important to the story of American culture?
    • How are its roots indicative of America’s “exceptionalism”?
  4. Is jazz folk music, according to the scholarly definition?
  5. What is the relationship between American music and politics?
  6. Make an informal music timeline below to represent the trajectory from low art to high art in the US.
    • How does hip-hop fit in on this timeline? Is it an extension of what has come before or a branch off of the timeline that is related more closely to past traditions?
  7. Prepare two precisely worded questions to ask our guest speaker about American music. The questions should (1) relate to the themes developed in Bayles or (2) reflect other areas of interest in how American musical traditions reflect the country’s culture.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2019