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RR Syllabus

RR Syllabus

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Published by Ryan Anderson

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Published by: Ryan Anderson on Aug 15, 2011
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HSTS 4241: The History of Rock and Roll
Dr. Ryan K. AndersonOffice Hours: M/W: 1pm-2pm and by appointment in Dial 211Phone: 775-(4263)Email: ryan.anderson@uncp.edu
We will explore American life through the prism of rock n’ roll. While this most dangerous and American art form provides a focal point for our discussions, its chief utility is not as the object of our study, but as a vehicle for understanding various political, economic, social, and cultural movements affecting American life since the mid-twentieth century.Our inquiry takes shape from the relationship between three interrelated groups of people: those who made, thosewho sold, and those who listened to rock. The course opens with an exploration of rock’s roots and its emergencewithin the youth culture of the fifties, as well as adult reactions against its popularity. Moving on to the sixties, wewill
examine the tension between rock’s growing commercial appeal and its political uses. Finally, our semester ends with a look at the fragmentation of rock and of its audience since the seventies.On a theoretical level, we will invest a good amount of energy delving into the historical contexts from which rock and roll took shape. Black culture, hillbilly culture, demographic forces, economic prosperity and peril, and theemergence of the teenager all interwove issues related to gender, race, business, class, and politics into this popular music’s evolution. Our primary goal this semester comes by way of our inspection of the political, economic,social, and cultural negotiations embedded into rock and roll’s history. By the end of the semester, you will better understand how popular culture both reflected and engaged the historical forces influencing American life today.All semester long, you will ask yourself, “What does this tell me about American life at this point in history?”In this course you will refine your conception of what is possible within the study of History. That mission is theheart of an intellectual movement referred to as “The New Social and Cultural History.” Rather than recounting anarrative of facts, dates, places, people, and events, we will strive towards an understanding of how historicaldevelopments related to popular culture affected people, how those folks influenced popular culture, and byextension, how their times represent that relationship. Just as important is making such inquiry relevant to thegeneral historical field. Doing so requires using traditional investigative methods, as well as innovative andinterdisciplinary tactics. On a more vocational plane, you will prove your ability to think as a historian,communicate through spoken and written word at a level commensurate with an upper-division student majoring inHistory, and read and synthesize written/audio/visual material in an effective manner.One final note. I am not kidding when I call rock n’ roll America’s most dangerous art form. Rock is sexist, racist,classist, offensive, misogynistic, beautiful, enlightening, entertaining, soul-searching, and awe-inspiring.Sometimes it is one or more of these things at once. It uses the “N-word,” “C-word,” and all sorts of other “-words.” This is my way of saying that I cannot promise that you will not find some aspect of the music we studythis semester offensive on multiple levels. But, I can promise you that if it you hear it here it is relevant and I amnot including it for mere shock value.
 Nick Tosches.
 Hellfire: The Jerry Lee Lewis Story.
Grove Press, 1998.
ISBN: 0802135668
Ray Allen.
Gone to the Country: The New Lost City Ramblers and the Folk Music Revival.
University of Illinois Press, 2010. 
ISBN: 0252077474
Mark Kemp.
 Dixie Lullaby: A Story of Music, Race, and New Beginnings in a New South
.University of Georgia Press, 2006.
ISBN: 0820328723
Michael Azerrad.
Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991.
Back Bay Books, 2002.
ISBN-10: 9780316787536
I also provide primary source materials via Facebook each week that tie into lecture—this is mandatory reading
Supplemental Resources
Our class will communicate with each other through a Facebook wall entitled “HSTS 4241/5410: History of Rock and Roll.” I will post relevant links, encourage discussion, and communicate with you through our class wall.
You do not have to “friend” me to use the wall. In fact, I do not friend students during the semester. If youdo not have a Facebook profile, you must get one. It is easy to establish and you do not have to provide any personal information for public consumption. You my even employ an alias, if you wish. Please see meduring office hours if you have any questions.
The use of Facebook is required.
Scrbd.com is a self-publishing site. I post readings for the class here and link the documents to our Facebook wall. You can print the materials from the site (be sure to choose the download and print option).
Kelly Schrum, Alan Gevinson, and Roy Rosenzweig,
U.S. History Matters: A Student Guide toU.S. History Online
This index lists online archives for historical resources. It is outside of my office.
On Mary Livermore Library’s “Electronic Resources” page, choose “History” in the “Databases by Subject” pull-down tab.
America History and Life
 New York Times
Accessible Archives
America's Historical Newspapers: 1690-1922
On Mother Internet
Making of America: http://moa.cit.cornell.edu/moa/
Library of Congress Digital Collections Page http: //www.loc.gov/library/libarch-digital.html
Historical Newspapers Online: http://gethelp.library.upenn.edu/guides/hist/onlinenewspapers.html
Essays : 100 points each/400 total points
These assignments require you write a five-page essay combining information from lecture, supplementalreading, and the monographs you’ll read over the course of the semester. I’ll pose a question that you’llanswer using the materials at hand. You’ll be graded on your ability to express an argument with a thesis, todefend that thesis with evidence culled from the material mentioned above, and to exhibit higher-orderedanalytical and critical thinking skills. I’ll also evaluate grammar, formatting, and style.
Album Review : 300 points
200 for preparatory writing and research assignments [detailed explanation on Album Review handout]
Proposal/initial bibliography [50 points]
Annotated index cards/bibliography [50 points]
Outline [50 points]
Rough draft [50 points]
100 for final draft
This assignment requires that you write an eight to ten page analysis of an album’s historicalsignificance. You’ll be graded on your ability to express an argument with a thesis, defend thatthesis with evidence culled from the material mentioned above, and to exhibit higher-orderedanalytical and critical thinking skills. I’ll also evaluate grammar, formatting, and style. Your goal isto write a conference-quality paper that you can present at PURC or an undergraduate levelconference.

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