Course Info









Politics, and


Popular Culture


in the United States

MHM 408-508

Tuesdays & Thursdays @ 10:30-Noon, Moore 2026

Welcome to the course web site for MHM408/508.
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Mark Clague

Office: Burton Memorial Tower, Room #606
Phone: (734) 647-4580 (voice mail)
Office Hours: Mon.-Fri. by appointment

This site is still under construction and is continually being updated.
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comment form with your suggestions for how this site might better serve participants in MHM408/508.

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Final Projects Online

for "Papers," "Forms" and "Teams"
See the bottom of the button column at the far left

ITD Online Listening Site
(Note: still under construction)

• Peer Paper Comment Form

• New Listening Guides

• Class Roster with email addresses


RegisterCourse DescriptionCourse MaterialsListening
Required PurchaseSupplementary ReadingLibrary Reference


This discussion based class will require participants to approach contemporary culture as critics, rather than consumers. We will examine the functional roles music plays in the politics of ideology, identity, emotion, censorship, and the music marketplace. Starting from the premise that music can influence our perception of the world, we will interrogate the potent social messages which composers have encoded in a wide range of musical works, including but not limited to hip hop, jazz, reggae, pop, rock, techno, Broadway, folk, MTV, gospel, patriotic song, and classical music. A primary task of the course will be to develop a critical vocabulary based upon writers in sociology, literary theory, women's studies, and contemporary music criticism. Students will be asked to prepare for discussions by keeping a listening journal and by writing five short papers. Grading will be based upon the quality and presentation of ideas in the writing assignments described above as well as four listening quizzes, a final exam, and two group projects. Students shoud be conversant with musical vocabulary, but no previous knowledge in any single area of musical culture will be necessary.

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Course Materials:

Required Texts:

Popular Music in Theory: an introduction. Keith Negus. Hanover: Wesleyan University Press, 1996. Available at Shaman Drum Bookstore in downtown Ann Arbor (313 S. State, 2nd Fl.) (662&endash;7407).

Coursepack I: including syllabus, peer comment forms, readings, listening guides, and musical examples. Available at Accu-Copy: 518 E William (769-8338).

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Course Listening Tapes 1-9, available at School of Music Listening Lab and the Language Resource Center in the MLB (see below for hours and locations) or via the <www >.


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Required Purchase:

Spiral bound notebook or 3-ring binder to use for your course journal.


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Supplementary Reading:

  • New York Times Sunday Edition Arts Section
  • Rolling Stone Magazine,
  • SPIN,
  • A.P., etc.


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Library Reference Materials (optional):

  • Hamm, Charles. Music in the New World. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1983.
  • Hitchcock, Wiley and Stanley Sadie. The New Grove Dictionary of American Music. Four Volumes: Music Reference 3rd Floor of U of M Music School or 2nd floor, Graduate Library reading room.
  • Southern, Eileen. The Music of Black Americans: A History. New York: W.W. Norton, 3rd edition, 1996.


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