Fall 2019

What is Mainstream Music?


Amy M. Coddington (Section 01)


What is Mainstream Music? What does it mean when we describe music as mainstream? Who is the intended audience, who are its creators, and what does it sound like? In this first year seminar, we will critically examine mainstream music from the nineteenth century to the present in the context of art and literature, developing critical reading and analytical writing skills through frequent reading, writing, and listening assignments. Drawing on sociological theories of taste, critiques of the mass culture industry, studies of the music industry, and critical race theory, we'll discuss such issues as: why, in an increasingly diverse America, the de facto mainstream audience is white and middle class; why major symphony orchestras mostly play music by a select few composers such as Beethoven, Mozart and Brahms; how institutions such as museums, schools, television networks, and record companies work together as gatekeepers to regulate the inclusion of new artistic movements such as pop art, hip hop, rock and roll, and minimalism in the mainstream; and how the internet and the resulting fragmentation of media has given citizens agency to redefine the nature of the mainstream. Reading and listening assignments will help guide class discussions, and students will complete a series of papers.

Fall semester. Prof. Coddington.

If Overenrolled: Dean's office determines this.


Fine Arts for Non-majors


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019