WGST 7 First-Year Seminar: "I Will Survive": Women's Political Resistance Through Song
There is a large body of work on women's political resistance to oppressions based on gender, sex, class, race, and economic disparity. Much of this work focuses on women's literature (especially novels, poetry, and plays) and political organizing. This course will examine how women, through the medium of popular music, have articulated clear political commentary and analysis that has reached large audiences, and has become foundational, to American popular culture. Beginning with artists at the advent of the popularization of African-American blues in the early 20th century, and moving through the genres of regional folk (especially Appalachian traditions), jazz, torch singing, contemporary folk, early rock, girl groups, disco, and more contemporary song the course will cover the lives, careers, and political thought of a wide range of writers and performers such as Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Libby Holman, Ella Mae Morse, the Boswell Sisters, Billie Holiday, Marian Anderson, Peggy Lee, Mahalia Jackson, Rosalie Sorrels, Lotte Lenya, Joan Baez, Nina Simone, Tammy Wynette, Joni Mitchell, Laura Nyro, Gloria Gaynor, Ani DiFranco, and Amy Winehouse. The course will be structured around the music as well as biographical, historical, cultural, and critical readings that will place each of these women in their artistic and political contexts.