Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department or School

Political Science

First Advisor

Beth Henschen

Second Advisor

Jeffrey Bernstein


The purpose of this thesis is to examine the role that the United States Congress has played in the last half century in monitoring controversial music. There has always been a strong relationship between music and politics. The music of the Civil Rights Movement and the protest songs of the Vietnam War are prime examples. A brief summary provides a backdrop to the central focus of the thesis: congressional actions and hearings about music that took place in the 1980s. A number of the questions that will be addressed include the following: What was the context in which these events took place? What prompted the actions taken by Congress? What were the political and social/cultural contexts of the time? Which artists and what genres of music were being criticized? What was the outcome of the hearings in terms of public policy? What was the response of the music industry and of individual artists?