I’m excited to announce that I’m teaching an undergraduate seminar in Musical Urbanism at Vassar College again this semester, with my colleague Hua Hsu. This is a multidisciplinary course housed in the Urban Studies Program, taught by an urban sociologist (myself) and literature professor/critic (Hsu).

We revised the syllabus significantly from the last time we taught it to focus more on promoting students’ original inquiry and intellectual production on topics of their own choice. This means, for instance, assigning texts early in the semester, like Patti Smith’s Just Kids, that aren’t driven by scholarly agendas to see what kinds of themes and narratives resonate with them. I think Hsu and I learned from the last time that frontloading the schedule with theory constricts the range of multidisciplinary approaches and personal interests that students might bring to the texts and assignments.

Our paper assignments are still under construction but will organize opportunities for original research, multimedia formats (e.g., annotated musical playlists), and creative writing. I’m looking forward to doing these assignments myself, which I hope to share on this blog.

We also plan to host some special events on campus — our so-called “lab sessions” – in association with the course, including a panel on the musical landscape of the Hudson Valley.

Click the image below to browse the Musical Urbanism course syllabus.