Cultural Studies in Twentieth-Century Western Music (Revision 1)
*Overseas students should contact the University Library before registering in a course that has an audio/visual component.
Area of Study: Humanities
Precluded Course: HUMN 412 is a cross-listed course—a course listed under 2 or more different disciplines—with MUSI 412 and CLST 412. HUMN 412 may not be taken for credit by students who have obtained credit for MUSI 412 or CLST 412.
HUMN 412 has a Challenge for Credit option.
Humanities 412: Cultural Studies in Twentieth-Century Western Music is a fourth-year, three-credit course that will introduce you to twentieth-century art music of Western Europe and North America. In thirteen units, it adopts a range of cultural perspectives in the study of twelve important composers and their music. Focused listening to music recordings is mandatory, and part of the final examination will test your ability to recognize aurally a selection of them.
The instructional materials and services for Cultural Studies in Twentieth-Century Western Music are delivered online and in print. The printed materials include a textbook and the Study Guide, which has been mailed to you. Your tutor may be contacted by telephone, course mail, and email.
The course is organized in the following thirteen units:
- Unit 1 Introduction: Art Music as a Cultural Phenomenon: Modernism and Conservatism in the Twentieth Century
- Unit 2 Music and the Other Arts: Alban Berg and Wozzeck
- Unit 3 Reception Studies: Igor Stravinsky and The Rite of Spring
- Unit 4 Music and Nationalism: England: Ralph Vaughan Williams and On Wenlock Edge
- Unit 5 Music and Nationalism: The USA: Aaron Copland and Appalachian Spring
- Unit 6 Music and Totalitarianism: Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia: Dmitry Shostakovich and his Fifth Symphony
- Unit 7 Music and Gender: Women Composers: Ethel Smyth and The Wreckers
- Unit 8 Music and Gender: Homosexuality: Benjamin Britten and Peter Grimes
- Unit 9 Music and Christianity: Oliver Messiaen and the Quartet for the End of Time
- Unit 10 Music and Technology: Edgard Varèse and the Poème Electronique
- Unit 11 Music and Film: Minimalism: Philip Glass and Kundun
- Unit 12 Synthesizing Musical Traditions: Chinese American Composers: Tan Dun and the Orchestral Theatre Series.
- Unit 13 Canadian Music: Environmental Music: R. Murray Schafer and the Patria Cycle
This course aims broadly to help you listen to twentieth-century art music more perceptively and to learn about cultural perspectives that can be brought to bear on it.
After completing the course, you should be able to meet the following specific objectives:
- Develop the skills required to research and write effectively about music.
- Explain the key differences between the musicological and cultural studies approaches to understanding modern music.
- Outline the major schools and trends in Western music during the twentieth century.
- Discuss the influence of literature and the visual arts on the development of music in the twentieth century.
- Outline the impact of nationalism, totalitarianism, and Eastern culture on the work of selected composers.
- Explain the significance of gender and sexual orientation in the music of selected composers.
- Discuss the receptivity of performers, critics and audiences to innovations in modern music.
Your final grade in Humanities 412: Cultural Studies in Twentieth-Century Western Music will be based on 13 forum postings (one for each unit), two written assignments, and a final examination.
You must achieve a minimum grade of 50 percent on the final examination and a composite course grade of 50 percent (D) or greater to pass the course. The weighting of the course assignments is as follows:
|Discussion Forum Postings (to be completed after each unit)||Essay 1||Essay 2||Final Examination||Total|
To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.
Ross, Alex. The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007.
Liebermann, Rolf director. Berg: "Wozzeck." Arthaus Musik, DVD, 2007.
Britten, Benjamin, conductor. Peter Grimes. BBC, 0774 3261, DVD, (rec. 1969).
Gergiev, Valery, conductor. Le Sacre du Printemps from Stravinsky and the Ballets Russes: The Firebird/Le Sacre du Printemps. Bel Air Classiques, DVD, 2009.
Scorsese, Martin, director. Kundun. Touchstone Pictures, DVD, 1997. (available at AU library)
Whittingham, Kevin. Music 412/Cultural Studies 412: Cultural Studies in Twentieth-Century Western Music—Study Guide I. Athabasca, AB: Athabasca University, 2011.
Whittingham, Kevin. Music 412/Cultural Studies 412: Cultural Studies in Twentieth-Century Western Music—Study Guide II. Athabasca, AB: Athabasca University, 2011.
Each of the units in your Study Guide contains both mandatory and optional reading, listening, and (in some cases) viewing assignments. Details of these assignments are provided in the Study Guide or on the course home page, which you must consult to know exactly what you are expected to do in the course.
Athabasca University. Music 412/Cultural Studies 412: Cultural Studies in Twentieth-Century Western Music—Reading File. Athabasca, AB: Athabasca University, 2011.
Whittingham, Kevin. Music 412/Cultural Studies 412: Cultural Studies in Twentieth-Century Western Music—Course Manual. Athabasca, AB: Athabasca University. 2011.
This Course Manual provides essential information specific to the course, the course materials, and the procedures you should follow to complete the course successfully. Please read it through carefully before beginning your studies. Instructions for completing the assignments for credit are provided on the course home page.
Athabasca University. Student Manual. Athabasca, AB: Athabasca University. (n.d.)
The Student Manual provides essential generic information about studying at Athabasca University and outlines the procedures you should follow to complete the course successfully. Please read it through carefully before beginning your studies.
Digital Reading Room (DRR)
Additional required and supplementary readings are contained in the DRR. You will be directed to these readings at appropriate points in the course.
The Challenge for Credit process allows students to demonstrate that they have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university level course.
Full information for the Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.
|Exam, Part 1||Exam, Part 2||Total|
Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form
Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.
Opened in Revision 1, May 29, 2013.
Updated July 06 2016 by SAS