Course Description:

This course traces the history of country music in the United States. We will consider sonic and cultural features that fall under the umbrella term “country music.” Starting with the early days of hillbilly music and early American fiddle tunes, we will move through the chronology of country music. In addition to developing an understanding of particular artists and sub-genres, we will analyze how the idea of “country” has evolved. What does this title mean? What values does it convey? How have these meanings and associations changed over time?


Learning Outcomes:

In this class, students will:

·         Have a broader understanding of a representative selection of country music within a rich historical, social and political context

·         Learn the significance of the music repertory, traditions, and artists we are studying

·         Develop analytical tools, critical thinking, and effective means of writing about music and culture

·         Engage with fundamental questions arising from the study of American popular music

·         Learn to engage in scholarly dialogue and debate with academic colleagues


Course Materials: 

Neal, Jocelyn R. 2013. Country Music: A Cultural and Stylistic History. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press.


I actually really enjoyed this project. The format ...[of tracing a theme over a century] honestly made me feel like i was in a time machine. I learned a lot more about events that shaped sound engineering from a different side of what I’m used t. just wanted to say it was cool because (being a music producer myself) i actually felt like country music was able—to my surprise—to contextualize so many important events on a side of/century of the recording industry that i never really studied in my major or paid much attention to before thanks again for helping me...really take something away from your class.”
— A former student