The Dance-Grinding Machine: Music, Industrial Modernity, and 20th Century Regret for Community
David W. Samuels (Associate Professor of Music, NYU)
with a response by Kerry Carnahan
Wednesday, March 24, 2021, 4:00pm (Online—Register here)
The twentieth century was witness to an ethical discourse about the scope of the human that took its cues from ideas about how people should sound. The tones and timbres of vocal and instrumental music became key reference points in a dialogue about how to maintain one’s humanity under the conditions of modern urban industrial capital. In this presentation, David W. Samuels traces some of the resonances between three strands of this discourse—historical performance movements, folk revivalism, and the emergence of ethnomusicology. The three represent multiple-layered and overlapping attempts to extract “the human scale” from the contexts of perceived dehumanizing processes of industrial modernity. All of these movements presented arguments about the human body and shared social participation as important locations in which to find continued expressions of humanity in the contemporary world.
David W. Samuels is a linguistic anthropologist, folklorist, ethnomusicologist, and Associate Professor of Music at NYU. His book, Putting A Song On Top of It: Music and Identity on the San Carlos Apache Reservation, was perhaps the first book-length monograph exploring popular culture’s place in the formation of contemporary Indigenous identities. He has published on a wide variety of topics including popular music, science fiction, language revitalization, historical imagination, missionary encounters, and vernacular modernities.
Kerry Carnahan was born and raised in Kansas. Currently she pursues doctoral work in English at the University of Connecticut, where she teaches composition and creative writing. Her doctoral work specializes in poetry and poetics, focusing on dynamics of gender, sexuality, race, class, and empire. She also studies religion and the Hebrew Bible. kerrycarnahan.com
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