Africana Studies: The Theology of American Popular Music
This course explores the social-political, cultural spiritual, and theological significance of popular music in American society. We will highlight the perspectives, insights, and work of creative artists who are committed to art and social engagement. This course operates upon the premise that making music is not merely a pastime but a priesthood. We will explore selected artists' music through lyrical analysis, musical forms, and performance practices in order to examine what artists say they are doing with their art. We will also examine selected critical writings and articles that discuss the function of creative construction using varying aesthetic theories. This course expands exposure to artists and their music as it relates to the notion of artistic expression tied to spiritual yearning or definition. Major music and social themes to be explored include: community, identity, social activism, sexuality, theodicy (the question of a good God in the face of evil), spirituality, love, social justice, the blues, gospel, Utopianism, and religious exploration. Additionally, the class will view selected video and film documentaries.