The acoustics of national publicity : music in German mass culture, 1924-1945 / by Brian Patrick Currid.
While cultural theorists have begun to explore the visual culture of publicity, the acoustics of national publicity, the ideological and material conditions for the experience of national simultaneity, remain largely untheorized. To accomplish this task, this dissertation considers music in German mass culture, 1924-1945. Chapter One explores radio's mode of mass publicity and its relationship to the national imaginary. Focusing on the forms of incongruence and incommensurability that inhered between radio's mass public and national fantasy, I show how the standard account of radio's role in German politics relies on an ahistorical conception of the German audience and a oversimplified conception of mass culture and its relationship to the state. In Chapter Two, I describe one particular zone of musical publicity: the Schlager, or "hit song". Although the Schlager is often caricatured as the epitome of bad mass culture, I suggest a new model for thinking about the kind of sonic experience embedded in this popular form. As "organs of experience", Schlager represent not only the place of the production of domination, but also the site of its cognition and the possibility of its refusal. Chapter Three examines the role of gypsy music and musicality in German mass culture. While gypsies were subject to industrialized mass murder by the Nazis, gypsy music and musicality were deployed as icons of both Heimat and the exotic. I argue that gypsy musicians and musicality provide a counterexample to the oversimplified accounts of race's operation in the German public sphere. In Chapter Four, I explore how Zarah Leander, one of the most popular film and singing stars of the Third Reich, circulated after the war. Less a simple, nostalgic embrace of the hit songs of yesteryear, Leander's post-war: following points to a complex interruption of the continuing attempt to recycle the past for the national imaginary. The German gay subculture's use of this star in her diachronic mode, in her decay, provides both a critique of the nation and a refusal of normalizing strategies of incorporation that inhere in other models of subcultural resistance.
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