Assistant Professor & Director, Center for Texas Music History
Office: Brazos 200
Ph. D. University of Texas at Austin
M. A. Texas A & M University, College Station
B. A. University of Texas at Austin
Jason Mellard is a cultural historian of the modern South and Southwest. He received his Ph. D. in American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin in 2009. His first book, Progressive Country: How the 1970s Transformed the Texan in Popular Culture, explores the intersections of political change and popular culture in the Sunbelt South’s largest state. At Texas State, he works with the Center for Texas Music History on the publication of The Journal of Texas Music History, the weekly radio program This Week in Texas Music History, coursework, and other projects. Research on Progressive Country has also developed into a range of collaborations in public history and the arts with such institutions as Foodways Texas, Humanities Texas, the South Austin Popular Culture Center, and the visual artist Bob Wade. Mellard’s current research interests include the racial politics of musical performance venues in the mid-twentieth century Texas-Mexico borderlands.
Post-1945 U.S., Popular Music History, Texas History
Progressive Country: How the 1970s Transformed the Texan in Popular Culture. Austin: University of Texas Press, forthcoming fall 2013.
“Home with the Armadillo: Public Memory and Performance in the 1970s Austin Music Scene,” The Journal of Texas Music History, November 2010.
“Regional Hybridity in Texas Music: The Case of the Texas Tornados,” Text Practice Performance 5, pp. 107-132. November 5, 2003.
HIST 1310: U. S. History to 1877
This course offers a general survey of the history of the United States from its colonial origins until 1877.
HIST 1320: U. S. History since 1877
This course offers a general survey of the history of the United States from 1877 to the present.
HIST 3378: The History of the Blues and Rock ‘n’ Roll
This course begins with the blues’ tangled origins in the folk traditions of Africa, Europe, and the American South before moving into the early years of the record industry and the blues craze that erupted around artists such as Bessie Smith and Blind Lemon Jefferson. We will then explore the connections between blues and its proximate genres in the years to follow: gospel, jazz, country, swing. We do this not simply to chart a musicological evolution, but that evolution’s social dimensions, the ways in which it intersects discourses of race, region, nation, political economy, and identity.
HIST 5345I: Texas Music History
What do we mean when we use the label “Texas Music”? Does the description encompass all the music ever made within the current political borders of Texas, or does it constitute an argument about culture, the notion that some logic, or sound, or sense of place, makes of the state’s diverse genres something like a coherent whole? In this course, we will attempt to answer these questions through an extensive engagement with the literature of Texan, and American, popular music history. The study of popular music’s past is by no means an end in itself. This course is not one in music appreciation, but an exercise in developing a professional historian’s abilities to use the narratives of popular music studies to understand the value of primary sources, the categories of race and ethnicity, notions of national belonging, region, and the philosophy of history.
HIST 5345R: The History of Country Music
This course narrates country music history from its folk origins in the American South, through the early decades of commercial recording and the electrification of honky-tonk, and into the continually alternating popularity of country pop and hardcore twang that echo through today. Further, this will not simply be a course in which students come to piece together the genre’s historical arc, but one in which we will come to understand the various ways in which scholars, critics, and fans have constructed our understanding of the music over time.
HON 3395Y: Juke, Twang, and Shout: Popular Music and Race in the U. S. South
Jazz, blues, country, rockabilly, and rock. Soul, gospel, and funk. Folk, bluegrass, and zydeco. Amongst the genres of American popular music, styles heavily associated with the U. S. South tend to predominate, and the history of each seems to be entangled with that region’s contentious racial history. From the antebellum slave regime to the Jim Crow strictures of white supremacy to the modern civil rights movement, musical performance and reception have constituted, by turns, sites of resistance, escape, co-optation, ambivalence, expression, communication, and power. This course will engage the history of modern musical production and performance in the South through close readings of musical texts and local scenes while also examining the hagiography and mythic constructions of the South, its music, and its people.
US 1100: University Seminar
At the University of Texas at Austin, St. Edward’s University, and Texas A & M University-San Antonio, I have also taught courses concerning American Studies, LBJ and Nixon, multiculturalism, Texas history, diplomatic history, the U. S. Gilded Age and Progressive Era, U. S. 1920-1945, and the 1970s.