What is a musical genre and why does it matter? Much more than a label, genres have the power to bring individuals together into communities of artists, critics, and fans, while at the same time putting artists and fans in a box defined by stereotypes. In this way, music genres both reflect and shape broader issues in society centered around race, gender, and class. Thus, a study of genre helps us understand why country music came to be connected primarily with white people, why some genres (R&B, soul, hip hop) are considered “Black music,” why some genres are associated with teenaged girls and others considered low class. This course seeks to answer these questions from an historical perspective. You will examine how genres have organized the production, consumption, and interpretation of popular music since the late-nineteenth century and the profound influence genres have today in shaping our aesthetics, values, and identities.