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CONF: Musical Degeneracies, Emmanuel College, Cambridge 8-11 August, 2002

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  • Robert Judd
    Musical Degeneracies: Intersections between Music and Ideas in the 19th and 20th Centuries An interdisciplinary symposium Emmanuel College, Cambridge 8-11
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 1, 2001
      Musical Degeneracies:

      Intersections between Music and Ideas in the 19th and 20th Centuries
      An interdisciplinary symposium

      Emmanuel College, Cambridge
      8-11 August, 2002
      (Conference booking will begin in early 2002)

      Alexander Rehding <ar123@...> and Eric Zakim <zakim@...>

      Musical Degeneracies describes what was perhaps the most powerful cultural
      alliance between music and the life sciences. Bandied about as a
      catchphrase in a variety of contexts in European fin-de-si├Ęcle culture, the
      idea of 'degeneration' in music and the arts found its tragic climax under
      the National Socialist regime in the 1930s in the banning of numerous works
      and their composers, such as Arnold Schoenberg, Kurt Weill and Paul
      Hindemith. But beyond a Nazi policing of the concert halls, the idea of
      degeneration lies as the underpinning of much of the discourses about
      modernity in general, contrasting notions of progress - indeed,
      degeneration was a necessary by-product of the conviction within modernity
      of inexorable progress as an essential element in the biological and social
      development of humankind. In our own time, warnings of degeneration and
      cultural decline are issued regularly, often, though by no means
      exclusively, in the context of millennial anxieties, and have recently
      attained new urgency in the context of advances made by the genetic sciences.
      Musical Degeneracies will bring together an interdisciplinary group of
      scholars - from music, literature, visual arts, history, and philosophy -
      for four days for an intense discussion of how ideas of degeneration
      informed and continue to permeate the discourses that have given meaning to
      music over the past one hundred and fifty years. The topic will doubtless
      be of interest to a variety of scholars - besides the flourishing branch of
      'decadence' studies, many areas of humanistic enterprise are directly
      concerned with aspects of degeneracy, as the nineteenth and twentieth
      century discourse of degeneration tapped into a large variety of issues:
      Wagnerism in French, Italian and German culture, Freudian psychoanalysis,
      Nietzschean cultural critique, social Darwinism and ideas of progress,
      Wildean sexual dissent and gender politics, Oswald Spengler's cultural
      pessimism, fascist dreams of racial health and purity. It seems, too, that
      the survival of degeneracy as a topic for culture beyond the mid-twentieth
      century might be particularly located in musical discussions and forms such
      as jazz, rap and hip-hop. Its effects, past and present, will be examined
      through diverse prisms, of which nationalism, class, gender and race are
      the most obvious, in order to show music's involvement in a broad nexus of
      ideas and political currents.

      Speakers include: Katherine Bergeron, Julie Brown, Roberto Dainotto, Robert
      Douglas-Fairhurst, Peter Franklin, Bryan Gilliam, James Hepokoski, Brian
      Hyer, Jeffrey Kallberg, David Kasunic, David Levin, Fred Maus, Louise
      Meintjes, Margaret Miner, Jairo Moreno, Daniel Bertrand Monk, Ben Morgan,
      Mitchell Morris, Jann Pasler, Martin Ruehl, Peter Tregear, Rebecca Zorach
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