History of Country Music
This course offers a survey of country music as a cultural and commercial phenomenon. The first unit focuses on the conversion of Southern musical folk traditions into the commercial genre that would come to be known as country, as well as the othering of this genre within the American musical landscape. The second unit looks at the first substantial expansion of the genre outside of its cultural roots and geographical centers in the 1940s, which was accompanied by the emergence of the genre’s identity as a center for nationalistic sentiment and the marginalization of the political left within its fan base. The third unit deals with the major identity crisis within the genre itself, precipitated by attempts to mainstream country in the Nashville sound, and the emergence of styles like outlaw that sought to recapture the genre’s outsider status. The final unit considers country since the 1980s, an era that features the urbanization of the genre and the emergence of new country, an accompanying surge of reminiscence themes, and a broad arch back toward the political center within the genre’s fan base.