Campus picture

Conference Presentation

Presentation Information

Title: Teaching ‘Black Music’ as a Diversity Initiative and Pedagogical Intervention
Type: Practice Session (Concurrent)
Authors: Anthony Kwame Harrison (
      Sociology, Virginia Tech, United States

Craig Arthur (
      Learning Sciences and Technologies, Radford University, United States

Ali Colleen Neff (
      Sociology, Virginia Tech, United States

Dylan Holliday (
      Multimedia Journalism, Virginia Tech,

Abstract: In his path-breaking book, Blues People (1963), Amiri Baraka explained that for a people once denied access to education—specifically, the literacy skills necessary to author their own written history—recorded music (literally, musical records) existed as primary historical texts. The importance of music in articulating and addressing Black experiences in America has been recognized by numerous scholars and cultural commentators. Since the final decades of the twentieth century, Popular Music Studies has developed as a dynamic academic field that incorporates, among other things, questions of identification, social organization, cultural hybridity, and knowledge production. During this same period (roughly the last forty years) both the United States and its institutions of higher education have experienced dramatic demographic shifts. Questions surrounding how to effectively manage racial/ethnic diversity—indeed, how to make a virtue of it—have been among the most pressing issues facing academic institutions in their mission to develop competent and cognizant twenty-first-century citizens. In this practice session, we discuss how to use one slice of Popular Music Studies scholarship—that which focuses on the social/commercial construct called “Black Music”—to develop curricula and pedagogical practices that address issues of race, diversity, and inequality. This includes articulating ways in which modes of Black music production, performance, and reception can work to broaden the frameworks through which we teach students to succeed academically and measure academic success. Finally, we reflect on how a Black music based curriculum aligns with inclusion and diversity priorities of colleges and universities, both inside and outside the classroom.
Full Proposal: 2-page proposal file
Presentation Files: No current files.
Handouts: No current files.

Conference Proceedings

Full Proceedings
now available online
to download (pdf) or purchase (paperpack).