The Great American Songbooks: Musical Texts, Modernism, and the Value of Popular Culture
The Great American Songbooks shows how popular music shapes and permeates a host of modernism's hallmark texts. Austin Graham begins his study of 20th-century texts with a discussion of American popular music and literature in the 19th century. He posits Walt Whitman as a proto-modernist who drew on his love of opera to create the epic free-verse poetry that would heavily influence his bardic successors. One can witness this in T. S. Eliot, whose poem The Waste Land relies on Whitman's verse style to emphasize how 19th-century structures of feeling regarding music persist into the 20th century. From opera and standards of the Victorian musical hall, Graham moves to the blues to reveal the multifaceted ways it shaped works in the Harlem Renaissance, most notably in the verse of Langston Hughes and Jean Toomer's stream-of-consciousness masterpiece, Cane. The second half of Songbooks advances an argument for a musical eclecticism that arose alongside rapid industrialization. Writers like Scott Fitzgerald and John Dos Passos, Graham argues, developed a notion of musical eclecticism to help them process—or cope—with the unprecedented invasiveness of popular music, particularly in major cities. This eclecticism runs counter to critics like Adorno who equate popular music with mass produced mechanisms such as the phonograph and radio, and thus with degraded, cultural forms. In conclusion, Graham suggests how modernist writers experienced, and sometimes theorized, a more nuanced, sophisticated, and fluid mode of interaction with popular music.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
1 Musical Literature Its Theory and Practice
Musical Forms and American Free Verse
F Scott Fitzgeralds Heard and Unheard Melodies
Musical Poetry Racial Transformation and the Harlem Renaissance
The Chorus Girl Novel and the Musical Stage
Motifs in Contemporary Musical Fiction
Other editions - View all
actress aesthetic African American American Literature American musical Amory argued artists attempt audible audiences Beautiful and Damned become Broadway Cambridge University Press Cane Carrie’s character chorus girl novel critical decades Deep River Dreiser Ellen emotional Emphasis original entertainment Essays experience fact fiction Gatsby girl novel Harlem Renaissance Harvard University Press hear heard History Hughes’s imagine inspired Jazz Jean Toomer Langston Hughes listening literary soundtrack Manhattan Transfer means melody Michael Modernism modernist musical forms musical theater musicians narrative nation’s Negro Oxford University Press Passos’s performance phonograph play poem poem’s poet poetic Poetry popular culture popular music popular song Princeton protagonist Proud Music race racial readers reading recording rhythm scene Scott Fitzgerald seems sense Side of Paradise sing singer Sister Carrie song’s sound spirituals stage story suggests T. S. Eliot theatrical tion tradition tune verse voice Walt Whitman Waste Land Weary Blues words writing York