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Music and History

Music and History

This residential module will take place in Venice and will explore the relationship between music and history, including the way history is represented in music, and the way music itself became part of history. It will take a broad historical and musicological perspective.

Who is this module open to?

Not for credit/ Co-curricular (0 CATS): Open to all degree level students at Warwick.

Credit bearing:

Open to all intermediate level (second year) students at Warwick, with a priority given to History students.

Open to students from partner institutions.

  • HI2K4-15 - Intermediate, for 15 CATS credit in current year (2023/24)

Key dates

This module will take place 27 May - 7 June 2024.

  • Teaching (in Venice): 27 May - 7 June 2024
  • Final assessment deadline: 19 June 2024


Students would be required to fund their travel to, and living expenses (accommodation and subsistence) in Venice for this module.


This is a residential module and will be taught in Venice, Italy.

What's special about our modules?

This programme will challenge your thinking, develop your confidence and open up a world of new opportunities. You’ll consider new ideas, apply theory to real world issues working in teams and individually, and develop new networks, connections and friendships. This will provide you strong analytical and research methods skills which also enhance your employability profile for a globalised world of work, derived from a transformative blend of online learning and intercultural engagement.

Access to Intercultural Training will provide further enhancement of your skills.

The intensive nature of our programme lets you focus purely on your chosen modules.

You should expect around two weeks of daily face-to-face sessions (on location) and possibly one week of preparatory online activities. The aim is to work in groups consisting of incoming students (from partner institutions) and Warwick students during the module. Assessments will consist of a mix of group and individual activities.

There are no additional programme fees for Warwick students to take our modules.

Where will you be taught?

Our intensive modules are taught in various ways: mostly face-to-face (combing some online learning and face-to-face teaching). Modules will be based at Warwick central campus, or our overseas residentials will be based at selected European locations relevant to module content. Our modules are designed to be taught in an intensive way, combining physical teaching, and online activities.

All participants will be expected to attend all lectures and group work activities in real time; this might include some online activities in the prep week (where listed in Key dates). As modules are intensive there is not expected to be free time during the teaching period for you to undertake other activities; there will be limited time available during the teaching period to explore the surrounding area.

Students are responsible for checking their own visa requirements and all associated applications and costs.

For overseas modules students are responsible for identifying and booking their own accommodation.

For overseas modules students are responsible for identifying and booking their own accommodation.

Dr Roger Fagge

Roger Fagge teaches history specialising in popular culture, including music and sport.

Roger Fagge

Professor Tim Lockley

Tim Lockley is a historian of North America with a research interest in classical music and history.

Tim Lockley


Module aims

Taking a broad musical and historical perspective, ranging from opera, symphonic and chamber music through to folk, jazz and hip-ho, this module will study the way history was represented in music, and how music itself sometimes became the subject and part of making history. It will draw on a rich historiography, and use relevant primary sources to explore the way this relationship works. Written, video and audio sources will be utilised. Key themes will include, Ancient History, War, Landscape and Nostalgia, Religion, Nationalism, Political movements, and Slavery

Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

  • Session 1: Opera as art form in Venice:' L’Incoronazione di Poppea'
  • Session 2: Monarchy: 'Gloriana'
  • Session 3: War: 'The Leningrad Symphony'
  • Session 4: Revolutionary change: 'Hamilton'
  • Session 5: The colour line: Showboat
  • Session 6: Nostalgia and ruralism: The Kinks, Neil Young, Paul Simon
  • Session 7;: Slavery and Imperialism: Reggae, Rastafarianism and History
  • Session 8: Vietnam, War and America: Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Country Joe and the Fish
  • Session 9: Black Power and Black Lives Matter: Nina Simone, Gil Scott Heron, Public Enemy, Kendrick Lamar
  • Session 10: Heavy Metal and History: Rammstein and Iron Maiden

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • To evaluate and critique the relationship between music and history
  • To understand how the study of music can be accessed through a range of written and audio-visual sources
  • To engage with historiographical debates and think about the history and legacy of different historical concepts
  • To encourage independent research, historiographical engagement, and the development of critical analysis
  • To gain interpersonal and communication skills through the delivery of a presentation

Indicative reading list

  • Jessica C. E. Gienow-Hecht (ed.) Music and international history in the twentieth century.[New York: Berghahn, 2015.]
    library ebook
  • Richard D. Wetzel The globalization of music in history [electronic resource] /. [New York : Routledge, 2012.]
    Jeffrey H. Jackson and Stanley C. Pelkey (eds) Music and history : bridging the disciplines / [Jackson : University
    Press of Mississippi, 2010.] library ebook
  • Hesmondhalgh, David. Why Music Matters. John Wiley and Sons, Incorporated, Newark, 2013.
    Wall, Tim. Studying Popular Music Culture. SAGE, Los Angeles, 2013, doi:10.4135/9781526401960.
  • Wendy Heller “Tacitus Incognito: Opera as History in "L'incoronazione di Poppea"” Journal of the American
    Musicological Society, Vol. 52, No. 1 (Spring, 1999), pp. 39-96
  • Edward B. Savage ‘Love and Infamy: The Paradox of Monteverdi's "L'Incoronazione di Poppea"’ Comparative Drama,
    Vol. 4, No. 3 (Fall 1970), pp. 197-207
  • Heather Wiebe 'Now and England': Britten's "Gloriana" and the 'New Elizabethans' Cambridge Opera Journal, Vol. 17,
    No. 2 (Jul., 2005), pp. 141-172
  • Colleen Renihan “Take These Tokens That You May Feel Us Near”: Remembrance and Renewed Citizenship in
    Britten’s Gloriana’ From: Benjamin Britten Studies: Essays on An Inexplicit Art, Boydell Press (2017) (pp. 236-258)
  • David Gow ‘Shostakovich's 'War' Symphonies’ The Musical Times, Vol. 105, No. 1453 (Mar., 1964), pp. 191-193
  • David B. Greene ‘SHOSTAKOVICH AND THE PURSUIT OF THE COMMON GOOD: A Musical Contribution to Civic
    Republicanism’ Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Vol. 92, No. 3/4, Arts of Democracy (Fall/Winter 2009), pp.
  • Elissa Harbert ‘Hamilton and History Musicals’ American Music, Vol. 36, No. 4, Hamilton (Winter 2018), pp. 412-428
  • Loren Kajikawa “Young, Scrappy, and Hungry”: Hamilton, Hip Hop, and Race American Music, Vol. 36, No. 4,
    Hamilton (Winter 2018), pp. 467-486
  • Special issue American Music, Vol. 36, No. 4, Hamilton (Winter 2018)
  • Warren Hoffman ‘Only Make Believe: Performing Race in Show Boat’ From: The Great White Way: Race and the
    Broadway Musical, Rutgers University Press (2014) (pp. 31-55)
  • Robin Breon ‘Show Boat: The Revival, the Racism’ TDR (1988-), Vol. 39, No. 2 (Summer, 1995), pp. 86-105
  • Bradley, Doug, and Craig Werner. We Gotta Get Out of This Place : The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War, University of
    Massachusetts Press, 2015. Ebook


  • History
  • Cultural Studies
  • Music


The module will be taught in Venice and likely involve students from different educational backgrounds. Students will engage with comparative and transnational methodologies and will do so in an intercultural context.

Transferable skills

  • Work effectively with others in group tasks and in teams
  • Plan and manage time in projects
  • Develop strong analytical skills
  • Find, evaluate and use previous research at a level appropriate for an intermediate year module
  • Use a range of tools and resources effectively in the preparation of course work
  • Use appropriate analytic methods to analyse research data on Music and History
  • Read academic papers effectively in the context of an intensive programme
  • Communicate clearly and effectively in discussions
  • Communicate ideas effectively in writing.

Study time

Type Required
Seminars 10 sessions of 2 hours (13%)
Private study

130 hours (87%)

  • History modules require students to undertake extensive independent research and reading to prepare for seminars and assessments. As a rough guide, students will be expected to read and prepare to comment on three substantial texts (articles or book chapters) for each seminar taking approximately 3 hours. Each assessment requires independent research, reading around 6-10 texts and writing and presenting the outcomes of this preparation in an essay, review, presentation or other related task
Total 150 hours


You do not need to pass all assessment components to pass the module.

  Weighting Study time
Class presentation/ podcast/ powerpoint with audio (10 minutes) 20% 10 hours

Related to theme of seminars

3,000 word essay


12 hours

Students will reflect on a question related to the themes of the module, with reference to relevant historiographical debates

Feedback on assessment
  • Feedback will provided in writing via Tabula
  • Optional oral feedback in office hours
  • Peer feedback on presentations.

Before you apply

You can take a maximum of two WIISP modules, and cannot take them at the same time. This module runs at the same time as the following modules, so you cannot choose these as a second module:

The preparatory reading week for the following modules overlaps with this module:

Please note

  • Warwick students will need to check with their department before applying to take a WIISP module
  • Students from partner institutions will need to apply via their home institution
  • You are expected to fully engage and participate in the module, including in any group activities, if not your registration will be cancelled
  • Module details provided on these pages are supplementary to module details in the module catalogueLink opens in a new windowLink opens in a new window. Subsequently individual module pages (moodle/my.wbs) will provide live details
  • All modules require minimum numbers to run. This is set by each module leader.

How to apply

If you want to make an enquiry before applying, please contact the WIISP team at WIISP at warwick dot ac dot uk

Apply - Warwick students