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Folk to Funk: The Interplay between Music and Fashion

Julie Hillery,

Course Description

The music and dress of the United States reflects its diverse and multicultural population made up of indigenous and immigrant groups, from North American Indians to Irish immigrants. The United States has a wide variety of music styles, from folk music to hip-hop, and related dress trends, from broomstick skirts to hubcap medallion necklaces. This course will take an inter-disciplinary look at the interplay between various genres of music and the fashion trends made significant by artists in each genre. For example, one major turning point in this relationship was in the early 1950s when Elvis Presley made Rock and Roll famous. Along with his music, Elvis was known for his striking good looks, pompadour haircut, tight pants, and custom dyed boots. Fans begin to emulate his style that established a pattern of fans mimicking the dress and style of their favorite performers. Such behavior can be examined from several sociological perspectives including, but not limited to, symbolic interaction theory, collective behavior theory, and fashion change as a means of emulation. These same theories can be used to consider the influences of American Bandstand when it came on the air in 1952, Soul Train which targeted the African American teen in 1971, and the greatest TV influence of all, MTV (Music Television), which came on the air in 1981. Now music was portrayed visually making clothing and appearance as important to a band and their fans as was the music. 

Readings and Texts

There will be no text for this class. I will provide all course readings. The majority will be pulled from materials in the reference list provided, and from the Berg Fashion library. We will also read some scholarly research/studies on selected topics. Here are a few of the scholarly books that we will draw from: 

Blush Steven. American Hair Metal. Los Angeles, CA: Feral House, 2006. 
Crawford Richard. An Introduction to America’s Music. New York: W. W. Norton, 2001. 
Davis Mary. Classic Chic: Music, Fashion, and Modernism. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006. 
Easely Erica. Rock Tease: The Golden Years of Rock T-Shirts. New York: HNA Books, 2006. 
George Nelson. Hip Hop America. New York: Penguin Books, 1998. 
Grossberger Lewis. Turn That Down!: A Hysterical History of Rock, Roll, Pop, Soul, Punk, Funk, Rap, Grunge, Motown, Metal, Disco, Techno and Other Forms of Musical Aggression over the Ages. Cincinnati, OH: Emmis Books, 2005. 
Heth Charlotte, ed. Native American Dance: Ceremonies & Social Traditions. Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing, 1993. 
Hilfiger Tommy. Rock Style: A Book of Rock, Hip-Hop, Pop, R&B, Punk, Funk and the Fashions That Give Looks to Those Sounds. New York: Universe Publishing, 2000. 
Hodkinson Paul. Goth: Identity, Style and Subculture. Oxford: Berg, 2002. 
Jasen David. Tin Pan Alley: The Composers, the Songs, the Performers and Their Times. London: Omnibus Press, 1990. 
Mcrobbie Angela. In the Culture Society: Art, Fashion and Popular Music. London: Routledge, 1999. 
Mundy Julie. Elvis Fashion: From Memphis to Vegas. New York: Universe Publishing, 2004. 

Perkins Charlotte. Music Reference Collection, #193: The Dress of Women: A Critical Introduction to the Symbolism and Sociology of Clothing. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2001. 
Polhemus Ted. Style Surfing: What to Wear in the 3rd Millennium. London: Thames & Hudson, 1996. 
Riley Tim. Fever: How Rock ‘n’ Roll Transformed Gender in America. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2005. 
Sims Joshua. Rock Fashion. New York: Omnibus Press, 2002. 
Southern Eileen. The Music of Black Americans: A History. 2nd ed. New York: W. W. Norton, 1983. 
Starr Larry, and Christopher Waterman. American Popular Music. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. 
White Shane, and Graham White. Stylin’: African American Expressive Culture from Its Beginnings to the Zoot Suit. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1998 
Winge, T.M. (2010). Music and Dress in the United States. In P.G. Tortora (Ed.). Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion: The United States and Canada (pp. 289–300). Oxford: Bloomsbury Academic. Retrieved August 28 2016, from

Films and Other Course Materials

There are a plethora of films, music videos, tv shows, and print media from which to draw materials. 
Just a few examples include: Clips from American Bandstand, Soul Train, MTV, the Ed Sullivan Show and Hee Haw
Films including Saturday Night Fever, FlashDance, Ray, and Yellow Submarine
Videos of Glen Miller's Orchestra, Jazz performers, Native American dances, and folk performers including Bob Dylan and Joanie Mitchell. 
Clips from music festivals such as Woodstock, Lollapalooza, and Coachella; and music award shows such as the MTV awards, the Grammies, and the Country Music Awards
We will also listen to numerous music examples every week centered around the themes for the class (e.g., folk, jazz, hip-hop, minstrel, big-band orchestra, rock and roll, bluegrass, metal, etc.)

Student Requirements

Students will participate in class discussions each meeting time. Assignments include 5 short assignments posted on Learn (discussion questions), a Student Discussion Leader assignment (two students lead discussion one day), a Final Report, a Midterm and Final Writing assignment (critical analysis of course materials at midterm and the final week.)

About the Instructor

Dr. Hillery earned her B.S. and M.S. at the Ohio State University, and her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She came to UNM as the Carruthers Chair in Honors in 2014 and liked teaching in the Honors College so much that she never left. She has always been interested in Dress, Fashion and Culture and loves introducing others to the subject.