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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Special Topics- Popular Music, Politics and the Law


Popular music has long played an important role in politics and the law. Music is crucial to many of the ways in which citizens and their government interact, such as patriotism, protest, and the development and transmission of political culture. Music also often plays an important role in attempts to both change and defend a variety of practices and institutions in American society. This class examines how music has been used to both foster and resist social and political change by surveying popular American music from the labor songs of the early 20th century, the protest and Civil Rights songs of the 1960's all the way to the patriotic post-9/11 songs, as well as current songs pertaining to Black Lives Matter. Musical genres play an important role in defining one's social and political identity, which it be folk, punk or rap. This determines in part the legal and political content and messages that one is exposed to through music, and ultimately affects individual beliefs and behaviors, ranging from notions of legality to the evaluation of governmental policies. In addition, candidates for public office and government officials often use music in attempt to shape and condition individuals' political views and interactions with the state.
Course Details

Winter 2022


Dec 17, 2021 - Jan 24, 2022
Lisa Solowiej
Base Cost: $1,446 ($482/credit)
Term Fee: $50
Start date: Dec 17, 2021
End date: Jan 24, 2022
Last day to add: Dec 23, 2021
Last day to drop: Dec 23, 2021
Last day to withdraw: Jan 07, 2022