New Course Offering - MUSC 950.002
MUSC 950.002 -- Cold War Music?: Political Action and Musical Life in East Central Europe
Monday, 2:00-4:50 pm
Almost twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, scholars are still analyzing and responding to the ramifications of Cold War geopolitics upon musical life and the writing of music history. This seminar takes the example of postwar East Central Europe as its focus in order to rethink the cultural binary presupposed by the division of the world into US and Soviet spheres. Attending to the musical landscape behind the Iron Curtain, we consider recent debates about music and politics in order to examine and question Cold War’s impact upon musical communities and its continued influence upon music historiography. We begin by broadly considering the stakes of studying the political through music and music through the lens of the political, engaging writings by political activists and cultural theorists on topics such as cultural dissent, the “underground,” socialist rhetoric, and theaters of protest. Diverse geographical and chronological case studies—from music pedagogy in Budapest during the 1950s to punk in Ljubljana in the 1980s—draw out intersections of musical ambition and political action, aiding us in developing a discourse that complicates presumptive dichotomies of control and subjugation under state socialism. The generic diversity of our case studies prepares students for final research papers outside the geographic purview of our seminar that complement the seminar’s discussion focus.