To the writers who aren't me-
So, I was listening to everyone's favorite geographically-savvy indie artist the other day, and a silly thought crossed my mind: as a geography major, could I potentially do a thesis project "assessing the geographical, cultural, and historical veracity of Sufjan Stevens albums"?
When first this thought appeared, I laughed. But since then, it has continued to pester me; wouldn't that be really interesting (at least to some of us)? How accurate, in-depth, and recognizable to natives are all of his place references ("Illinoise" and Michigan, specifically), anyway? Could this possibly fly with professors? Is there another way I could restate my purpose to make it more defensible or interesting? I, personally, think it would be fascinating and a lot of fun. Anybody?
Personally I think this would be more appropriate for an anthropology project, but by all means, go for it if you can, and send me a copy if you write it.
As a Sufjan Stevens fan who served his mission in Detroit, I think there is definitely enough material on the Michigan album to assess cultural and historical aspects of the lyrics. For example, "Romulus" captures quite well the "white trash" (sorry, a kinder term escapes me) culture and family life of the southern suburbs, and "Detroit, Lift Up Your Weary Head" stirs in me a montage of memories of places and attitudes I saw in the Great Lakes State. As far as geography goes, however, you can't really use one of his songs to draw a map. In the end, I have to agree with Whistler--this sounds like a great anthropology project, but passing it off as geography would be a stretch.
A student who graduated from my program a couple years ago wrote his doctoral dissertation on independent music in Detroit. Your idea sounds comparable.
You know how much I endorse linking music to pretty much everything. But I'm going to say what's been said: you're not going into geography with this project; you're going into culture, which just smacks of anthropology.
Cool idea, though.
It doesn't have to be anthropology, cultural studies or even pop culture studies are happily found in humanities departments in many universities. Now, simply studying the geographical references might not be enough for a professor, but studying the accuracy of those references, the interpretation of those places within the work, the presentation of those places to locals and non-locals in the work may work for your professors.