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Family Feuds: Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and Solange and the Meaning of American Music

ENGL 084.401
crosslisted as: AFRC 226, GSWS 224
instructor(s):
TR 3-4:30
fulfills requirements:
Sector 2: Difference and Diaspora of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major

Taking Beyoncé’s “Lemonade,” Solange’s “A Seat At The Table,” and Jay-z’s “4:44” as a point of departure, this class will focus on the role of popular music as “politics” within contemporary American culture.  While these albums are clearly neither the first nor the only musical expressions to delve into the matters of black lives, feminism, and sexuality today, they do mark a very significant political and personal evolution for these individual artists and their audiences as they relate to the defining issues of our time.  By looking at how each artist engages their influences (Nina Simone is staple for all three) and discussing how these albums challenge musical forms and incorporate different visual mediums, this course will reflect on the conversations these artists are having with each other and examine their cultural impact in order to understand the limits and possibilities of black musical expressions as sites of social change.