Music, Emotion and Social Justice. The course explores connections between Black American Musics (BAM) and themes of social justice and liberation historically, theoretically, and in our current historical moment. The power of music to inspire activism, assuage grief, manage fear, create spiritual connection, celebrate victory, and find joy has been an especially strong theme of African American music and history. We begin with reading what African American writers (DuBois, J.W. Johnson, Ellison, Baraka and more) have had to say about music and its connections to African American life and the struggle for racial justice. We then examine how sounds, rhythms, timbral inflections, voice, acquire affective, associational, and symbolic meanings over time. Recent theories of emotion, affect, and embodiment when placed in dialogue with Michael Silverstein's metapragmatic conception of anthropological semiotics offer rich possibilities for developing a theory of relational listening that bridges sensory and meaning-based approaches to the relationship between music and politics. To this must be added a sociological understanding of systemic racism. The final segment asks students to look closely at how music has been deployed in the movement arising from the murder of George Floyd and the reality of COVID-19's disparate impact on African Americans and other Non-Black People of Color. What new meanings, associations, and anthems have arisen? What has remained the same? How are new connections between music and social being formed?
Faculty: Ingrid Monson
Semester: Full Fall Term