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Course Details

Fall 2017-2018
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
20628 L01 10:00 am - 10:50 am M W        Enrolled:44 Limit:45
20630 P01 2:30 pm - 3:20 pm W        Enrolled:12 Limit:15
23113 P02 3:30 pm - 4:20 pm W        Enrolled:0 Limit:15
23114 P03 3:30 pm - 4:20 pm Th        Enrolled:2 Limit:15
20629 P99 TBA        Enrolled:30 Limit: