In almost every class at Carolina, students are required to remove their headphones and turn off their music, but in his class, professor Mark Katz is asking them to turn up the volume.
Katz’s class, “The Art and Culture of the DJ,” challenges students to examine music and the cultural role DJs play in modern music.
“There are so many things we cover in this class because the DJ is one of the central figures in popular culture and popular music today,” said Katz, the Ruel W. Tyson, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Humanities.
The course focuses on a wide range of topics related to DJ culture in the classroom and then puts students in control of turntables with vinyl or digital music players, similar to the setups used by real DJs in clubs across the world.
The students have an opportunity to learn the basics of scratching and mixing music while also gaining real-world insight and knowledge from professionals, such as DJ VSPRTN and DJ A-Minor, who is the official DJ for the Charlotte Hornets.
“I think DJing is super cool,” said Manivannan Senthil, a sophomore majoring in computer science and information science, “but I’ve learned a lot more about the history of DJing and where it’s coming from and to really understand how DJ culture has influenced music in general.”
The class, Katz said, is about more than just music. It also encourages more in-depth conversations about topics that beyond the DJ booth including gender, race, politics and business.
“I found that students are able to connect what they’ve learned in my class to many more classes than they might have imagined,” he said.