Music and Social Change in Canada

From trade union songs to punk tirades; from avant-garde jazz to resonant forms of klezmer and reggae; from folk rock and hip-hop anthems to the affirmative sounds of Idle No More; music continues to play a crucial role in amplifying and energizing debates about citizenship, democracy, human rights, social and racial justice, multiculturalism, and reconciliation. Music and Social Change in Canada examines music making as a social practice – attending to the interplay between artists and audiences, genres and scenes, culture and politics – from the 1940s to the present. Structured around discussions of key concepts and a series of compelling case studies, the course draws attention to the range of musical forms of expression embraced by Canada’s diverse constituencies and communities to bring about change. It invites students to listen with a critical ear to the sonic histories of social movements and encourages reflections on the uses of music in dealing with (and thinking about) some of today’s long-standing socio-economic, cultural, political, and environmental issues.  

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Canada in Soundbites (1867-1967)

Canada in Soundbites (1867-1967) is a survey of Canadian history through the prism of culture, particularly that which solicits, whether figuratively or literally, our sense of hearing. While due emphasis is placed on social, economic, and political developments, the purpose of the course is to encourage us to think critically about the “audiopolitics” of Canada’s past, considering the many ways in which individuals and groups came together around and across different categories of identity through the experience of sound, musical or not. The course will provide a compelling experience of how one listens to the past using four broad temporal themes: Coping with Change (1860s-1910s); Enacting Citizenship (1900s-1930s); Forging Consensus (1930s-1950s); and Reimagining Canada (1940s-1960s). It will call attention to a wide range of historical actors to highlight the importance of the cultural public sphere in the making of Canada in addition to examining a variety of platforms via which historians communicate the importance of their work to colleagues and to the larger public.

Syllabus


History of Canada, Post-Confederation

This introductory-level course is a survey of Canadian history from Confederation to the present, emphasizing readings and discussions on selected problems. It aims to familiarize students with the key events and debates that have shaped Canada since 1867. History of Canada, Post-Confederation focusses on the individuals, groups, and collectivities who built, defined, contested, and reimagined our country as it completed its transition from colony to nation. It therefore seeks to provide a deeper understanding of the multitude of identities (class, ethnic, gendered, regional, religious, etc.) that compose Canada’s sociopolitical and cultural landscape. The course introduces students to a wide variety of primary sources while providing opportunities to engage critically with scholarly works dealing with post-Confederation Canadian history.

Syllabus