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The Oxford Handbook of the New Cultural History of Music [Hardcover]

Jane F. Fulcher

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Book Description

Aug. 19 2011 Oxford Handbooks
This volume demonstrates the recent direction of cultural history, as it is now being practiced in both history and musicology, to grasp the realms of human experience, understanding and meaning - how they are constructed, negotiated and communicated on both an individual and a social level. Just as historians in their quest to understand the construction and transmission of meaning, musicologists are turning to new inquiries into cultural representations and their social dynamics, while remaining aware of music's distinctive "register" of representation as an abstract language and a performing art. As the case studies analyzed by musicologists and historians in this volume attest, both fields are not only posing similar questions but attempting to study music itself together with the relevant framing factors and contexts that imbued it with meaning. They are seeking to do so within a factually accurate yet theoretically sophisticated interpretation that combines the insights into language and semiotics characteristic of "the new cultural history" and "new musicology" of the 1980s and '90s with more recent sociological theories and their perspective on how symbols function within the larger field of social power. The volume illuminates how musicologists and historians are practicing the new cultural history of music, employing similar rubrics and specifically those emerging from the recent synthesis of theoretical perspectives on language, symbols, meanings, and their social as well as political dynamics. These include questions of cultural identity and its expression, or its constructions, representations and exchanges, into which music provides a significant mode of access. The scholars who work in these areas are concerned with those cultural sites of the construction or attempted control of identity, as well as its interrogation through active agency on a social and on an individual level, which embraces subjectivity in its relation to the larger cultural unit. Here we may see attempts on the part of both historians and musicologists to engage with the new ways of perceiving the articulation of music, ideology, and politics opened up by figures such as Foucault, Bourdieu, Elias, Habermas and others. Their study of meanings and symbols is thus both relational and contextual as they strive to unlock the idioms not only of social and political power, but of the strategies of contestation or of refusal. Other scholars represented in this volume are particularly interested in cultural practice, collective memory, transmission and evaluation as it is forged and then negotiated, here influenced by figures such as de Certeau, Corbin, Chartier and Nora. Hence a part of this collection is devoted to cultural experience, practice and appropriations, grouping together those cultural arenas in which music both illuminates and is further illuminated by a study of uses, collective practices, modes of inscription, and of evaluation or reception. The contributors here, both historians and musicologists, are apprised of all the dimensions that may affect the construction of signification, including specific material inscriptions as well as the symbolic potential of the artistic language. Hence here we see a concern, characteristic of "the new cultural history," with how the forms assumed by texts may become an essential element in the creation of their meaning since different groups encounter, "possess," and experience a work in various ways, and within the context of substantially different aural and visual cultures.

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"[A] lush edition." --HistoryWire.com

"Gives the reader both an excellent overview of current thinking in the discipline and many separate insights into specific areas of this aspect of music...There's nothing comparable--or, at least, nothing comparably broad--in terms of deepening our understanding of the nexus between musicology and cultural history. Particularly nothing that seeks to sum up the current state of thinking across so wide a range of historical and geographical areas. Well worth investigating." --Classical.net

About the Author

Jane F. Fulcher is Professor of Musicology at the University of Michigan. She has received research awards in both the United States and Europe, including The American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities (two awards), the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, the National Humanities Center, the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey (where she was the Edward T. Cone member in Music Studies for 2003-04). In addition, she has three times been invited to be visiting professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris.

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