Popular Music in the United States

Meet the Faculty

Benjamin Leeds Carson

Ben Leeds Carson's work as a composer and improviser is supported by a variety of research, including empirical studies in perception, theory of mind, and theory of musical form. Dr. Carson offers courses in theory and analysis, perception studies, and popular culture.

Created by Benjamin Leeds Carson

Popular Music in the United States

Spring Quarter 2018
UC Santa Cruz, MUSC 80P
5 quarter units / 3.33 semester units credit

Introduces music and cultural studies, surveys popular music in the United States from 18th-century minstrelsy to 21st-century social media "consumer-producers." Emphasizes narratives of race, complicated by ethnicity, gender, and class, informing ways of valuing music, and its capacity for social representation. (Formerly Music 11C, Introduction to American Popular Music.)

Music 80P is a valuable course introducing concepts of music and cultural studies to a wide variety of students. We anticipate an enrollment of 1200 or more. The course is a survey of American popular music in cultural context, from the beginnings of mass media to the late twentieth century and beyond. The course focuses in particular on narratives of race in America, intersected with gender, sexuality, and class, that inform both our ways of valuing music, and popular musical expressions of identity. Topics include the blues, minstrelsy, parlor song, “country music” and “rhythm and blues” of the post-war economic boom, popularized Latin American and Afro-Caribbean musics in the 1950s-70s, musics of the early civil rights movement, the Chicago roots of the 'British invasion,' the rise of funk and hip-hop as modes of community empowerment, the cultural meanings of "indy" and commercial pop in the late 20th century, and recent impacts of digital media and social networking on R&B and electronic dance music.

Important dates: 

Registration opens: Dec 6, 2018  
Registration ends: Jan 6, 2019
First day of instruction: Jan 7, 2019
Last day of instruction: Mar 15, 2019


Please click here to download a syllabus for this course.


Benjamin Carson