Jamaican popular music, particularly reggae and dancehall music, has become a dominant global, social, racial, political, and capitalist force. The commercialization and commodification of this music has shaped perceptions of Jamaican culture.
Deploying theories at the juncture of gender and cultural studies, this course interrogates the production and consumption of Jamaican popular music culture and critically examines the intersections of gender and sexuality therein. In this regard it demonstrates the ways in which Jamaican popular music has been instrumental in mediating constructions both national and personal. It explores the ways in which the creation, consumption, and understanding of culture are dependent on our often-unconscious assumptions regarding gender and sexuality. Thus, the course also signals how unequal power structures and stereotypical and oppressive role models can be revealed and challenged. In this regard, it will be seen how culture shapes our perception of who we are (or who we are supposed to be) and how we behave (or how we are expected to behave).
The course will focus on dancehall music as contemporary popular Jamaican music, but will also draw from other genres, including reggae and mento. Particular attention will be paid to the constructions of masculinity and femininity in Jamaican popular music culture.