MUS 238: “Better than Wikipedia” Final Project

Welcome to the final project website for the fall 2018 MUS 238: Popular Music and the Margins!

Course Description:

This course investigates popular music history from the perspective of those who have lived at the margins of U.S. society. It considers how they have created, consumed, and formed communities around popular music from the commercial success of rock and roll to today. Students in this class explore musics that have represented the perspectives of those who identify with various marginalized groups, including youth, girls, LGBTQ+, adolescent males, economically disadvantaged, and immigrants. They use primary and secondary sources to consider the multiple ways that marginal subjectivity has been communicated to mass audiences over the past sixty years, including the ways veiled musical tropes and coded language have been used to speak to insider audiences.

The class also examines the genres we study within the larger framework of the music industry to study how musical trends have been influenced by the successes and failures of styles created by vulnerable communities. By examining popular music through various social and cultural lenses, students extend historical perspective to today’s social movements and hot button issues.

Project Description:

Each student has chosen a musical performer, group, festival, performance, video, or recording to investigate and create a “Better than Wikipedia” Webpage. They have conducted research to find primary and secondary sources to historicize their topic’s role within the broader framework of music history. They also used the techniques learned in this course to critically analyze and situate it within historical discussions about politics of age, race, gender, sexuality, mental health etc. Their pages are “better” than Wikipedia because they present their topics through the lens of a scholarly argument that is well informed, properly cited, and includes critical engagement with musical performances and historical narratives.