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Paper 14: Musical Countercultures of the 1960s

Aims and objectives

  • To explore a diverse range of music during the period 1958–70, focusing on the US and Europe
  • To engage in relational approaches to musicology that destabilize boundaries between avant-garde, experimental, and popular domains
  • To equip students with the necessary critical skills to approach the historiography and aesthetics of music in the twentieth century

Description of the course

This interdisciplinary course will be delivered as a series of seminars split equally between lecturing and group discussions driven by independent reading and student presentations. After a broad introductory session on relational musicology and issues of historiography in the twentieth-century, the following topics will be covered in detail: New York experimentalism and Fluxus; the international avant-garde; modern jazz; minimalism; the transatlantic folk and blues revivals, including protest song; British Invasion pop and rock; psychedelia; and the music of Bob Dylan. Grounded in this diverse range of music, we will rethink both the mythologized countercultures of the 1960s and also the legitimacy of disciplinary boundaries drawn around certain genres. In particular, we will broach issues of politics, poetics, social change, youth culture, the aesthetics of late modernism, and the vexed question of postmodernism.

Lecturer: Ross Cole

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