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Course Details

Spring 2015-2016
AMS 399 / HIS 399 (HA)   na, npdf

In the Groove: Technology and Music in American History, From Edison to the iPod

Emily Thompson

When Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877, no one, including Edison, knew what to do with the device. Over the next century Americans would engage in an ongoing dialogue with this talking machine, defining and redefining its purpose. This course will track that trajectory, from business tool to scientific instrument to music recorder to musical instrument. By listening to the history of the phonograph, and by examining the desires and experiences of phonograph users, students will perceive more generally the complex relationships that exist between a technology and the people who produce, consume, and transform it.

Sample reading list:
Katz, Mark, Capturing Sound: How Technology has Changed Music
Brady, Erika, A Spiral Way: How the Phonograph Changed Ethnography
Edison, Thomas, The Phonograph and Its Future
Thompson, Emily, Machine, Music, and the Quest for Fidelity
Gould, Glenn, The Prospects of Recording
Movie, Scratch

Reading/Writing assignments:
Reading assignments will average 125 pages per week. Essay assignments will require students to integrate ideas, themes, and information across several weeks of reading/lecture to articulate an argument about some aspect of the relationship between phonographic technology and culture. Students will also develop skills of careful, historically-informed listening.

Requirements/Grading:
Mid Term Exam - 10%
Final Exam - 15%
Papers - 50%
Class/Precept Participation - 25%

Other Requirements:
Not Open to Graduate Students.

Schedule/Classroom assignment:

Class numberSectionTimeDaysRoomEnrollmentStatus
43692 L01 11:00 am - 11:50 am M W   McCosh Hall   62   Enrolled:33 Limit:45
44228 P01 2:30 pm - 3:20 pm W   Friend Center   203   Enrolled:14 Limit:15
44229 P02 3:30 pm - 4:20 pm W   Friend Center   203   Enrolled:9 Limit:15
44230 P03 3:30 pm - 4:20 pm Th   Jones Hall   113   Enrolled:10 Limit:15
44158 P99 TBA        Enrolled:0 Limit:0 Canceled