Course code:



M - Intermediate

Class size limit:


Meets the following requirements:

  • AD - Arts & Design

Typically offered:

Every other year

In Black Atlantic Music students will work to understand how histories of slavery, colonialism, diasporic imagination, and networks of cultural exchange form the basis for popular music in the African diaspora. Tracing musical and political histories through a series of case studies routed throughout the diaspora, this course aims to develop a theory of “the Black Atlantic” as a sonic geography. After establishing a foundation in the key historical forces leading to the creation of the African diaspora, students will explore case studies related to the development of local and transnational musical styles from salsa to hip-hop, funk, reggae and more. We will explore the intersecting work of artists (such as Janelle Monae, Angélique Kidjo, Fela Kuti, Lee “Scratch” Perry, and Bob Marley) and scholars (such as Paul Gilroy, Angela Davis, Amiri Baraka, and Michael Veal). Equal weight in the course will be given to reading, listening, and writing as valuable modes of interacting with music. Throughout the course of the term, students will learn to listen more closely to sound and to develop a critical capacity for relating these sounds to the political and social worlds from which they emerge. Turning our attention back and forth between the local and the transnational, Black Atlantic Music is a window into how music takes shape in the context of culture, politics, geography and history. Evaluations will be based on regular written responses, a final project, and participation in class discussions and activities.


None, but previous coursework in anthropology, literature, or history will be helpful.

Always visit the Registrar's Office for the official course catalog and schedules.