Music was at once one of the most idealized and one of the most contested art forms of the Victorian period. Yet this vitally important nineteenth-century cultural form has been studied by literary critics mainly as a system of thematic motifs. Angelic Airs, Subversive Songs positions music as a charged site of cultural struggle, promoted concurrently as a transcendent corrective to social ills and as a subversive cause of those ills. Alisa Clapp-Itnyre examines Victorian constructions of music to advance patriotism, Christianity, culture, and domestic harmony, and suggests that often these goals were undermined by political tensions in song texts or “immoral sensuality” in the “spectacle” of live music-making.
Professor Clapp-Itnyre turns her focus to the novels of Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot, and Thomas Hardy, who present complex engagements with those musical genres most privileged by Victorian society: folk songs, religious hymns, and concert music.
Angelic Airs, Subversive Songs recovers the pervasive ambiguities of the Victorian musical period, ambiguities typically overlooked by both literary scholars and musicologists. To the literary critic and cultural historian, Professor Clapp-Itnyre demonstrates the necessity of further exploring the complete aesthetic climate behind some of the Victorian period’s most powerful literary works. And to the feminist scholar and the musicologist, Clapp-Itnyre reveals the complexities of music as both an oppressive cultural force and an expressive, creative outlet for women.
BLOWS LIKE A HORN
Preston Whaley Harvard University Press, 2004 Library of Congress PS228.B6W48 2004 | Dewey Decimal 810.90054
Reopening the canons of the Beat Generation, Blows Like a Horn traces the creative counterculture movement as it cooked in the heat of Bay Area streets and exploded into spectacles, such as the scandal of the Howl trial and the pop culture joke of beatnik caricatures.
Preston Whaley shows Beat artists riding the glossy exteriors of late modernism like a wave. Participants such as Lawrence Lipton, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and at great personal cost, even Jack Kerouac, defied the traditional pride of avant-garde anonymity. They were ambitious to change the culture and used mass-mediated scandal, fame, and distortion to attract knowing consumers to their poetry and prose.
Blows Like a Horn follows the Beats as they tweaked the volume of excluded American voices. It watches vernacular energies marching through Beat texts on their migration from shadowy urban corners and rural backwoods to a fertile, new hyper-reality, where they warped into stereotypes. Some audiences were fooled. Others discovered truths and were changed.
Mirroring the music of the era, the book breaks new ground in showing how jazz, much more than an ambient soundtrack, shaped the very structures of Beat art and social life. Jazz, an American hybrid--shot through with an earned-in-the-woodshed, African American style of spontaneous intelligence--also gave Beat poetry its velocity and charisma.
Blows Like a Horn plumbs the actions and the art of celebrated and arcane Beat writers, from Allen Ginsberg to ruth weiss. The poetry, the music, the style--all of these helped transform U.S. culture in ways that are still with us.
Table of Contents:
Introduction: Opening Measures
1. Horn of Fame 2. On the Brink 3. Celluloid Beatniks 4. Ready for Breakfast 5. Howl of Love
Conclusion: The Horn Keeps Blowing
Notes Credits Index
Mr. Whaley, in this book, takes an academic approach to a subject that is just now beginning to attract scholarly interest. He thoroughly fleshes out a range of sources that span the artistic spectrum in order to give balance and objectivity to his treatment of American culture during the bebop and beat eras. The 1960s, with the Civil Rights Movement, the advent of hippie culture, and the protests against the Vietnam War, has long garnered attention from scholars, writers, musical historians, and filmmakers alike. In the popular conception of pop culture, the 1950s are often labeled boring or drab by comparison. Preston Whaley's analysis, however, will go a long way toward identifying the cultural movements of the 1940s and 1950s as part of a linear whole, a direct predecessor of the cultural revolution of the late 1960s. --Douglas Brinkley, author of World War II: the Axis Assault, 1939-1942
This book has a nice exuberance and conviction, a consistent vision and a persuasively engaging tone. It has a winsome, masculinist, optimistic, expansive style that is reminiscent of beat literature itself. --Maria Damon, author of The Dark End of the Street: Margins in American Vanguard Poetry
Whaley's Blows Like a Horn made me want to read ruth weiss, see The Subterraneans, reread Visions of Cody and well, I already listen to Coltrane and read Howl all the time .. but these are signs to me of a very effective book. Whaley wants to find a new way of talking about the Beats and post-Beat culture, one that doesn't fall into the rhetoric of liberation and resistance that is so common in the analyses of this genre, or to the cultural studies critiques of the beats that have pointed out the movement's appropriation by the hegemonic structures of Western, white, patriarchal, hetero capitalism and left it there. Whaley looks for a hitherto ignored space in Beat culture in which the aspirations, experiments and prejudices of the Beats can be directly related to precisely the kind of struggles that cultural studies itself is engaged in as a field. The Beats may not solve all problems, but they are aware of many of them, to varying degrees. There's a subtle, improvisatory quality to Whaley's writing that mirrors the kind of in situ politics and aesthetics that he's trying to evoke in Beat culture. He moves between high and low, personal and theoretical as the situation needs. He talks to the reader directly. There's a refreshing directness here, a willingness to address fundamental human situations. --Marcus Boon, author of The Road of Excess: A History of Writers on Drugs
Relating the blues to American social and literary history and to Afro-American expressive culture, Houston A. Baker, Jr., offers the basis for a broader study of American culture at its "vernacular" level. He shows how the "blues voice" and its economic undertones are both central to the American narrative and characteristic of the Afro-American way of telling it.
A critical analysis of the poetic representations and legacies of five landmark blues artists
The Blues Muse: Race, Gender, and Musical Celebrity in American Poetry focuses on five key blues musicians and singers—Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Robert Johnson, and Lead Belly—and traces the ways in which these artists and their personas have been invoked and developed throughout American poetry. This study spans nearly one hundred years of literary and musical history, from the New Negro Renaissance to the present.
Emily Ruth Rutter not only examines blues musicians as literary touchstones or poetic devices, but also investigates the relationship between poetic constructions of blues icons and shifting discourses of race and gender. Rutter’s nuanced analysis is clear, compelling, and rich in critical assessments of these writers’ portraits of the musical artists, attending to their strategies and oversights.
For the Enlightenment mind, from Moses Mendelssohn’s focus on the moment of surprise at the heart of the work of art to Herder’s imagining of the seismic moment at which language was discovered, it is the flash of recognition that nails the essence of the work, the blink of an eye in which one’s world changes.
In Cherubino’s Leap, Richard Kramer unmasks such prismatic moments in iconic music from the Enlightenment, from the “chromatic” moment—the single tone that disturbs the thrust of a diatonic musical discourse—and its deployment in seminal instrumental works by Emanuel Bach, Haydn, and Mozart; on to the poetic moment, taking the odes of Klopstock, in their finely wrought prosody, as a challenge to the problem of strophic song; and finally to the grand stage of opera, to the intense moment of recognition in Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride and the exquisitely introverted phrase that complicates Cherubino’s daring moment of escape in Mozart’s Figaro. Finally, the tears of the disconsolate Konstanze in Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail provoke a reflection on the tragic aspect of Mozart’s operatic women. Throughout, other players from literature and the arts—Diderot, Goethe, Lessing among them—enrich the landscape of this bold journey through the Enlightenment imagination.
Difficult Rhythm examines E. M. Forster's irrepressible interest in music, providing plentiful examples of how the eminent British author's fiction resonates with music. Musicologist Michelle Fillion analyzes his critical writings, short stories, and novels, including A Room with a View, which alludes to Beethoven, Wagner, and Schumann, and Howards End, which explicitly alerts readers how fiction can adopt musical forms and ideas. This volume also includes, for the first time in print, Forster's notes on Beethoven's piano sonatas. Documenting his knowledge of music, his musical favorites and friends, and his attitudes toward various composers, performances, and competing musical theories, this engaging book traces the musical influences of luminaries such as Wagner, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and Britten on Forster's life and work.
A daring and innovative study that rewrites the story of American pragmatism.
Emancipating Pragmatism is a radical rereading of Emerson that posits African- American culture, literature, and jazz as the very continuation and embodiment of pragmatic thought and democratic tradition. It traces Emerson's philosophical legacy through the 19th and 20th centuries to discover how Emersonian thought continues to inform issues of race, aesthetics, and poetic discourse.
Emerson's pragmatism derives from his abolitionism, Michael Magee argues, and any pragmatic thought that aspires toward democracy cannot ignore and must reckon with its racial roots. Magee looks at the ties between pragmatism and African-American culture as they manifest themselves in key texts and movements, such as William Carlos Williams's poetry; Ralph Ellison's discourse in Invisible Man and Juneteenth and his essays on jazz; the poetic works of Robert Creeley, Amiri Baraka, and Frank O'Hara; as well as the "new jazz" being forged at clubs like The Five Spot in New York.
Ultimately, Magee calls into question traditional maps of pragmatist lineage and ties pragmatism to the avant-garde American tradition.
Michael Magee teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence.
Brent Hayes Edwards Harvard University Press, 2017 Library of Congress PN56.M87E36 2017 | Dewey Decimal 810.9896073
Hearing across media is the source of innovation in a uniquely African American sphere of art-making and performance, Brent Hayes Edwards writes. He explores this fertile interface through case studies in jazz literature—both writings informed by music and the surprisingly large body of writing by jazz musicians themselves.
Wallace Stevens dedicated his poetry to challenging traditional notions about reality, truth, knowledge, and the role of language as a means of representation. Rosu demonstrates that Stevens's experimentation with sound is not only essential to his poetics but also profoundly linked to the pragmatist ideas that informed his way of thinking about language. Her readings of Stevens's poems focus on revealing the dynamic through which meaning emerges in language patterns—a dynamic she calls "images of sound."
Rosu argues that the formal aspects of poetry are deeply ingrained in cultural realities and are, in fact, generated by their context. The sound pattern pervading Stevens's poems at once addresses and violates the reader's assumptions about the functioning of language and, along with them, ideas about reality, knowledge, and subjectivity. Sound is thus the starting point of an argument concerned with Stevens's epistemology and poetics—the way his poems insist on a movement past or through a normal poetic representation of the world to gesture toward a reality that lies outside or beyond systems of representation.
The relationship between sound and meaning isolated and analyzed in The Metaphysics of Sound in Wallace Stevens is firmly situated among critical debates concerning the poet's aesthetic and philosophical convictions. Rosu claims that Stevens's poetry is not ultimately about the powerlessness of language, nor is it a deconstructive enterprise of destabilizing culturally consecrated truths; rather it achieves meaning most frequently through patterns of sound. Sound helps Stevens make a deeply philosophical point in a language unavailable to philosophers.
This wide-ranging, ambitiously interdisciplinary study traces jazz's influence on African American poetry from the Harlem Renaissance to contemporary spoken word poetry. Examining established poets such as Langston Hughes, Ntozake Shange, and Nathaniel Mackey as well as a generation of up-and-coming contemporary writers and performers, Meta DuEwa Jones highlights the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality within the jazz tradition and its representation in poetry. Applying prosodic analysis to emphasize the musicality of African American poetic performance, she examines the gendered meanings evident in collaborative performances and in the criticism, images, and sounds circulating within jazz cultures.
Jones also considers poets who participated in contemporary venues for black writing such as the Dark Room Collective and the Cave Canem Foundation, including Harryette Mullen, Elizabeth Alexander, and Carl Phillips. Incorporating a finely honed discussion of the Black Arts Movement, the poetry-jazz fusion of the late 1950s, and slam and spoken word performance milieus such as Def Poetry Jam, she focuses on jazz and hip hop-influenced performance artists including Tracie Morris, Saul Williams, and Jessica Care Moore.
Through attention to cadence, rhythm, and structure, The Muse is Music fills a gap in literary scholarship by attending to issues of gender in jazz and poetry and by analyzing recordings of poets both with and without musical accompaniment. Applying the methodology of textual close reading to a critical "close listening" of American poetry's resonant soundscape, Jones's analyses include exploring the formal innovation and queer performance of Langston Hughes's recorded collaboration with jazz musicians, delineating the relationship between punctuation and performance in the post-soul John Coltrane poem, and closely examining jazz improvisation and hip-hop stylization. An elaborate articulation of the connections between jazz, poetry and spoken word, and gender, The Muse Is Music offers valuable criticism of specific texts and performances and a convincing argument about the shape of jazz and African-American poetic performance in the contemporary era.
In “When Malindy Sings” the great African American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar writes about the power of African American music, the “notes to make the sound come right.” In this book T. J. Anderson III, son of the brilliant composer, Thomas Anderson Jr., asserts that jazz became in the twentieth century not only a way of revising old musical forms, such as the spiritual and work song, but also a way of examining the African American social and cultural experience. He traces the growing history of jazz poetry and examines the work of four innovative and critically acclaimed African American poets whose work is informed by a jazz aesthetic: Stephen Jonas (1925?–1970) and the unjustly overlooked Bob Kaufman (1925–1986), who have affinities with Beat poetry; Jayne Cortez (1936– ), whose work is rooted in surrealism; and the difficult and demanding Nathaniel Mackey (1947– ), who has links to the language writers. Each fashioned a significant and vibrant body of work that employs several of the key elements of jazz. Anderson shows that through their use of complex musical and narrative weaves these poets incorporate both the tonal and performative structures of jazz and create work that articulates the African journey. From improvisation to polyrhythm, they crafted a unique poetics that expresses a profound debt to African American culture, one that highlights the crucial connection between music and literary production and links them to such contemporary writers as Michael Harper, Amiri Baraka, and Yusef Komunyakaa, as well as young recording artists—United Future Organization, Us3, and Groove Collection—who have successfully merged hip-hop poetry and jazz.
Restages fundamental debates about the relationship between poetry and music
Orphic Bend: Music and Innovative Poetics explores the impact of music on recent pioneering literary practices in the United States. Adopting the myth of Orpheus as its framework, Robert L. Zamsky argues that works by Charles Bernstein, Robert Creeley, John Taggart, Tracie Morris, and Nathaniel Mackey restage ancient debates over the relationship between poetry and music even as they develop work that often sharply diverges from traditional literary forms. Opening each chapter with a consideration of the orphic roots of lyric, Zamsky integrates contemporary debates over the prospects and limitations of humanism, the meaningfulness of gesture and performance, and the nature of knowledge with the poetics of the writers under consideration, grounding his analysis in close readings of their work.
The myth of Orpheus is used as a lens throughout the book, its different facets illuminating sometimes dramatically different aspects of the shared framework of poetry and music. In the case of Bernstein, for instance, Zamsky highlights Ezra Pound’s meditations on the relationship between poetry and music (the ground upon which Pound seeks to recapture the lost possibilities of the Renaissance) and Bernstein’s incisive critique of Pound. For her part, Morris emphasizes the performative power of spoken language, foregrounding the fact that all spoken language bears cultural, communal, and personal marks of the speaker, improving an ensemble self even within the most elemental features of language. Meanwhile, in Mackey’s work, the orphic voice of the poet powerfully reaches toward an order of knowledge in which poetry and music are nearly indecipherable from one another. In this sense, music and the musicality of poetic language are the gateways for Mackey’s Gnosticism, the mechanisms of initiation into a realm, not of secrets to be learned, but of visionary knowing that continuously unfolds.
The text explores a range of musical influences on the writers under consideration, from opera to different iterations of jazz, and underscores the variety of ways in which music informs their work. Many of these writers effectively present a theory of music in their invocations of it as an inspiration for, or as an analog to, poetic practice. Zamsky’s focus on poetry and music echoes important interdisciplinary studies on literary modernism, a period for which the importance of music to literary practice is well established and extends that discussion to the contemporary context. In doing so, Orphic Bend provides an important opportunity to consider both the specific legacy of modernism, and to situate contemporary writers in broader historical contexts.
Phonographic Memories is the first book to perform a sustained analysis of the narrative and thematic influence of Caribbean popular music on the Caribbean novel. Tracing a region-wide attention to the deep connections between music and memory in the work of Lawrence Scott, Oscar Hijuelos, Colin Channer, Daniel Maximin, and Ramabai Espinet, Njelle Hamilton tunes in to each novel’s soundtrack while considering the broader listening cultures that sustain collective memory and situate Caribbean subjects in specific localities. These “musical fictions” depict Caribbean people turning to calypso, bolero, reggae, gwoka, and dub to record, retrieve, and replay personal and cultural memories. Offering a fresh perspective on musical nationalism and nostalgic memory in the era of globalization, Phonographic Memories affirms the continued importance of Caribbean music in providing contemporary novelists ethical narrative models for sounding marginalized memories and voices.
Phonographies explores the numerous links and relays between twentieth-century black cultural production and sound technologies from the phonograph to the Walkman. Highlighting how black authors, filmmakers, and musicians have actively engaged with recorded sound in their work, Alexander G. Weheliye contends that the interplay between sound technologies and black music and speech enabled the emergence of modern black culture, of what he terms “sonic Afro-modernity.” He shows that by separating music and speech from their human sources, sound-recording technologies beginning with the phonograph generated new modes of thinking, being, and becoming. Black artists used these new possibilities to revamp key notions of modernity—among these, ideas of subjectivity, temporality, and community. Phonographies is a powerful argument that sound technologies are integral to black culture, which is, in turn, fundamental to Western modernity.
Weheliye surveys literature, film, and music to focus on engagements with recorded sound. He offers substantial new readings of canonical texts by W. E. B. Du Bois and Ralph Ellison, establishing dialogues between these writers and popular music and film ranging from Louis Armstrong’s voice to DJ mixing techniques to Darnell Martin’s 1994 movie I Like It Like That. Looking at how questions of diasporic belonging are articulated in contemporary black musical practices, Weheliye analyzes three contemporary Afro-diasporic musical acts: the Haitian and African American rap group the Fugees, the Afro- and Italian-German rap collective Advanced Chemistry, and black British artist Tricky and his partner Martina. Phonographies imagines the African diaspora as a virtual sounding space, one that is marked, in the twentieth century and twenty-first, by the circulation of culture via technological reproductions—records and tapes, dubbing and mixing, and more.
Between present and past, visible and invisible, and sensation and idea, there is resonance—so philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty argued and so Jessica Wiskus explores in The Rhythm of Thought. Holding the poetry of Stéphane Mallarmé, the paintings of Paul Cézanne, the prose of Marcel Proust, and the music of Claude Debussy under Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological light, she offers innovative interpretations of some of these artists’ masterworks, in turn articulating a new perspective on Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy.
More than merely recovering Merleau-Ponty’s thought, Wiskus thinks according to it. First examining these artists in relation to noncoincidence—as silence in poetry, depth in painting, memory in literature, and rhythm in music—she moves through an array of their artworks toward some of Merleau-Ponty’s most exciting themes: our bodily relationship to the world and the dynamic process of expression. She closes with an examination of synesthesia as an intertwining of internal and external realms and a call, finally, for philosophical inquiry as a mode of artistic expression. Structured like a piece of music itself, The Rhythm of Thought offers new contexts in which to approach art, philosophy, and the resonance between them.
What does it mean to have an emotional response to poetry and music? And, just as important but considered less often, what does it mean not to have such a response? What happens when lyric utterances—which should invite consolation, revelation, and connection—somehow fall short of the listener’s expectations?
As Seth Lerer shows in this pioneering book, Shakespeare’s late plays invite us to contemplate that very question, offering up lyric as a displaced and sometimes desperate antidote to situations of duress or powerlessness. Lerer argues that the theme of lyric misalignment running throughout The Tempest, The Winter’s Tale, Henry VIII, and Cymbeline serves a political purpose, a last-ditch effort at transformation for characters and audiences who had lived through witch-hunting, plague, regime change, political conspiracies, and public executions.
A deep dive into the relationship between aesthetics and politics, this book also explores what Shakespearean lyric is able to recuperate for these “victims of history” by virtue of its disjointed utterances. To this end, Lerer establishes the concept of mythic lyricism: an estranging use of songs and poetry that functions to recreate the past as present, to empower the mythic dead, and to restore a bit of magic to the commonplaces and commodities of Jacobean England. Reading against the devotion to form and prosody common in Shakespeare scholarship, Lerer’s account of lyric utterance’s vexed role in his late works offers new ways to understand generational distance and cultural change throughout the playwright’s oeuvre.
The rich conceptual and experiential relays between music and philosophy—echoes of what Theodor W. Adorno once called Klangfiguren, or "sound figures"—resonate with heightened intensity during the period of modernity that extends from early German Idealism to the Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School. This volume traces the political, historical, and philosophical trajectories of a specifically German tradition in which thinkers take recourse to music, both as an aesthetic practice and as the object of their speculative work.
The contributors examine the texts of such highly influential writers and thinkers as Schelling, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Bloch, Mann, Adorno, and Lukács in relation to individual composers including Beethoven, Wagner, Schönberg, and Eisler. Their explorations of the complexities that arise in conceptualizing music as a mode of representation and philosophy as a mode of aesthetic practice thematize the ways in which the fields of music and philosophy are altered when either attempts to express itself in terms defined by the other.
Contributors: Albrecht Betz, Lydia Goehr, Beatrice Hanssen, Jost Hermand, David Farrell Krell, Ludger Lütkehaus, Margaret Moore, Rebekah Pryor Paré, Gerhard Richter, Hans Rudolf Vaget, Samuel Weber
Examining American realist fiction as it was informed and shaped by the music of the period, Sounding Real sheds new light on the profound musical and cultural change at the turn of the twentieth century.
Sounding Real by Cristina L. Ruotolo examines landmark changes in American musical standards and tastes in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries and the way they are reflected in American literature of the period. Whereas other interdisciplinary approaches to music and literature often focus on more recent popular music and black music that began with blues and jazz, Ruotolo addresses the literary response to the music that occurred in the decades before the Jazz Age.
By bringing together canonical and lesser-known works by authors like Theodore Dreiser, Kate Chopin, Harold Fredric, James Weldon Johnson, Willa Cather, and Gertrude Atherton, Ruotolo argues that new, emerging musical forms were breaking free from nineteenth-century constraints, and that the elemental authenticity or real-ness that this new music articulated sparked both interest and anxiety in literature: What are the effects of an emancipated musicality on self and society? How can literature dramatize musical encounters between people otherwise segregated by class, race, ethnicity, or gender?
By examining the influence of an increasingly aggressive and progressive musical marketplace on the realm of literature, Sounding Real depicts a dynamic dialogue between two art forms that itself leads to a broader discussion of how art speaks to society.
In Soundworks Anthony Reed argues that studying sound requires conceiving it as process and as work. Since the long Black Arts era (ca. 1958–1974), intellectuals, poets, and musicians have defined black sound as radical aesthetic practice. Through their recorded collaborations as well as the accompanying interviews, essays, liner notes, and other media, they continually reinvent black sound conceptually and materially. Soundwork is Reed’s term for that material and conceptual labor of experimental sound practice framed by the institutions of the culture industry and shifting historical contexts. Through analyses of Langston Hughes’s collaboration with Charles Mingus, Amiri Baraka’s work with the New York Art Quartet, Jayne Cortez’s albums with the Firespitters, and the multimedia projects of Archie Shepp, Matana Roberts, Cecil Taylor, and Jeanne Lee, Reed shows that to grasp black sound as a radical philosophical and aesthetic insurgence requires attending to it as the product of material, technical, sensual, and ideological processes.
From its dissonant musics to its surrealist spectacles (the urinal is a violin!), Modernist art often seems to give more frustration than pleasure to its audience. In Untwisting the Serpent, Daniel Albright shows that this perception arises partly because we usually consider each art form in isolation, even though many of the most important artistic experiments of the Modernists were collaborations involving several media—Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring is a ballet, Gertrude Stein's Four Saints in Three Acts is an opera, and Pablo Picasso turned his cubist paintings into costumes for Parade.
Focusing on collaborations with a musical component, Albright views these works as either figures of dissonance that try to retain the distinctness of their various media (e.g. Guillaume Apollinaire's Les Mamelles de Tirésias) or figures of consonance that try to lose themselves in some total effect (e.g. Arnold Schoenberg's Erwartung). In so doing he offers a fresh picture of Modernism, and provides a compelling model for the analysis of all artistic collaborations.
Untwisting the Serpent is the recipient of the 2001 Susanne M. Glasscock Humanities Book Prize for Interdisciplinary Scholarship of the Center for Humanities Research at Texas A&M University.