Music videos, emotional geography, and pedagogy

Dr Tyler Sonnichsen1

1The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, United States


For the past two years, my favourite course to teach has been the Geography of American Popular Culture, and assignments I’ve created for the class mix emotional geographies, media studies, and digital ethnographies. For the one observed in this paper, my students select one popular music video from the heyday of Music Television (MTV) on YouTube and construct a critical analysis of that song’s psychogeographic impact by searching and sourcing user comments. My students have enjoyed this project, as it incorporates several pedagogical strengths of cultural geography: popular music, film studies, subjectivities, and nostalgia. My research here discusses the value of this assignment in teaching (1) digital ethnographies through social media and (2) the relationship between music, memory, and place. It also applies to the greater instructional value of MTV as an institution or music video as an art form. In my analysis, I quote student responses to the assignment and posit advances in the relationship between cultural geography, popular culture, and emotional geographies. Ultimately, this paper will add to the greater conversation on how Popular Culture Studies enhance pedagogy in Cultural Geography, and vice versa.


Dr. Tyler Sonnichsen is a Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (US), having earned his PhD there in 2017. His research focuses on underground music, tourism, urban development, and geography pedagogy. More of his work can be found at, and he can be reached via email at

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