Lecture materials

Week 2 Lecture A materials: American black popular music 1920-1970

Here’s the lecture slides and the accompanying playlist. I’ll endeavour to add a YouTube playlist for all the videos later. Update: added the videos


Week 2 Task

This week I’d like to test the collaborative capabilities of Spotify. I’ve created a playlist entitled ‘MED332 Week 2 Task Black popular music

  1. I’d like you to add a song that you think best represents the appropriation of black music by a different culture. I’ve started it off with Elvis’s cover of Arthur Crudup.
  2. Leave a comment below explaining your choice
  3. Be prepared to explain your selection in class

If you want to read some articles dealing with this topic (for inspiration) then try this Time feature, this Noisey/Vice article, and this article from the Daily Beast

You should be able to find it using one of the following links:

MED332 Week 2 Task Black popular music (web URL)

MED332 Week 2 Task Black popular music (Spotify URL)

Screening material

Week 2 screening: Born To Be Wild – The Golden Age of American Rock

There’s one film being screened this week and it’s a BBC4 production called Born To Be Wild – The Golden Age of American Rock. If you can’t make it to the screening you can watch it here

You might like...

You might like… Radiolab investigates the myth of Robert Johnson


Image credits: Denis Barthel (cc by-sa3.0)

Week 2 will touch upon rhythm and blues and many of you may be familiar with the legend of Robert Leroy Johnson (May 8, 1911 – August 16, 1938). He was an American blues singer and musician who is famous because of the myth about him selling his soul to the devil by the crossroads in order to obtain amazing guitar skills.

Radiolab have investigated this myth and you might enjoy this – it’s a wonderful bit of radio, told brilliantly…

Here’s the link to the show and its accompanying blurb. It’s a great bit of radio.

In this short, we go looking for the devil, and find ourselves tangled in a web of details surrounding one of the most haunting figures in music — a legendary guitarist whose shadowy life spawned a legend so powerful, it’s still being repeated… even by fans who don’t believe a word of it.

For years and years, Jad’s been fascinated by the myth of what happened to Robert Johnson at the crossroads in Clarksdale, Mississippi. The story goes like this: back in the 1920s, Robert Johnson wanted to play the blues. But he really sucked. He sucked so much, that everyone who heard him told him to get lost. So he did. He disappeared for a little while, and when he came back, he was different. His music was startling — and musicians who’d laughed at him before now wanted to know how he did it. And according to the now-famous legend, Johnson had a simple answer: he went out to the crossroads just before midnight, and when the devil offered to tune his guitar in exchange for his soul, he took the deal.

Producer Pat Walters bravely escorts Jad to the scene of the supposed crime, in the middle of the night in the Mississippi Delta, to try to track down some shred of truth to all this. And Robert Johnson experts Tom Graves, Elijah Wald, David Evans, and Robert “Mack” McCormick help bring us a step closer to the real human at the heart of this tale. Plus, we hear, posthumously, from Ledell Johnson…a man of no relation to Robert, who unintentionally helped the world fall for a blues-imbued ghost story.

Read more:

Tom Graves, Crossroads: The Life and Afterlife of Blues Legend Robert Johnson

Elijah Wald, Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues

David Evans, Tommy Johnson

Peter Guralnick, Searching for Robert Johnson

Lecture materials

Week 1 Lecture B materials: Popular music consumers

Med332 the birth of the rock and roll consumer from Rob Jewitt

Further reading:

Andy Bennett (2001) Cultures of Popular Music, Maidenhead: Open University Press, Chapter 1 [library link]

Lecture materials

Week 1 Lecture A materials

These are the slides and related materials referred to in the lecture:

MED332 introduction to the module from Rob Jewitt

Some light reading:
Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda cover artwork: too racy for its own good?

We’re Officially in the Era of the Big Booty

How FKA Twigs is Pushing Female Sexuality Beyond Miley Cyrus and Sinead

Some further reading:

Roy Shuker (2012) Understanding Popular Music – 4th edition, London: Routledge. Introduction: ‘What’s Going On?’ (.pdf)


One good thing about music…

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” (Bob Marley)


The module guide is live

Students can access the module guide from the following link:

Module Guide 2014 (.pdf)

Be sure to check out the ‘Resources’ tab for more, er, resources as the module progresses


Screening room update

Image credits: Bartosch Salmanski (cc by-nc 2.0)

Due to the popularity of the module, we’ve had to move the screening slot. It was scheduled to take place on Monday at 3pm in MC235 – a classroom that could accommodate up to 28 students.  We now have in excess of 50 students registered on the module.

The screening slot will now take place in the Media Centre Cinema at 5pm in MC207. This will be after the Monday lecture – not ideal – but we are a victim of our own popularity and there’s lots of pressure when it comes to finding large rooms for 2 hour blocks (as this means that 2 one-hour lectures can’t take place in such a room).

Also, on two dates (Sept 22nd and October 6th) we will actually have the screenings in Prospect 009 as the Cinema is already booked out.

Where possible, we will highlight alternate online resources to access the vast majority of the films screened on the module.


Welcome to pop-music-cult

Image credits: Blixt (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

There’s not a lot of material on this website currently, but that’s going to change over the next few weeks as lecture notes and material related to the module gets added.

In addition the module’s assessment involves the students writing their own case studies of various musical genres and musicians.

Exactly what will be required is going to be revealed in the very near future, so stay tuned