Neoliberal culture asks us to see ourselves exclusively through our capacity to buy, sell, accumulate “likes” and “followers” and to do it as individuals. And the neoliberal cultural project tends to render invisible or illegitimate any alternatives to it as an orientation to social life. However there exists examples of cultural projects that remained on the outside of neoliberalism’s program, that weren’t conducive to assimilation. House music culture is one such example. This class will study house music culture in contrast to neoliberal forms popular culture. It will posit that the house scene spanning forty years contains glimpses of what Stephen Duncombe, calls “micro utopia” – temporary manifestations of an ideal civic culture.
We will surface the tacit, deep logics and practices of house music culture from its nascent days from David Mancuso’s Loft and Nicky Siano’s Gallery, Frankie Knuckles Warehouse and Ron Hardy’s Music Box to its present manifestations globally. We will compare these logics to those within neoliberal popular cultural projects that we are currently enmeshed within. This course will borrow from cultural studies, affect theory, performance studies, dance and dance studies. Students will be asked to develop prototypes of socially engaged art that intervene into neoliberal culture based on house music’s cultural logics.