This dissertation is a discursive history of the early twentieth century music controversy as it appeared in the popular press and as it articulated the assumptions and contradictions of progressive social thought. Through close textual analysis, the author illustrates the ways in which musical spaces, musical sounds, and dance practices, operated as the fulcrum for debates about how to reconstitute an "ideal" public in the wake of industrial modernity. For some progressives, the popularization of syncopated pop music signaled the dangerous public incursion of black and working-class cultures, and immigrant groups. For others, ragtime and jazz threatened to dismantle the aesthetic hierarchies to which the project of political "progress" had been hitched. Ultimately, this dissertation argues that progressive social reformers, in an effort to create a public culture that more closely resembled the bourgeois ideals of the liberal tradition, used the newly prolific print media as a vehicle through which to counter the pervasive influence of ragtime and jazz music and dance.
University of Minnesota. Ph.D. dissertation. November 2009. Major: Communication studies. Advisor: Dr. Mary Vavrus. 1 computer file (PDF); iii, 199 pages.
Perilous pop: ragtime, jazz and progressive social thought in the early 20th Century Press, 1900-1930..
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