The Right to Tell: Listening Practices, Race, and Recordings, 1947-1974
King, Michael Sasha
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CitationKing, Michael Sasha. 2020. The Right to Tell: Listening Practices, Race, and Recordings, 1947-1974. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
Abstract“The Right to Tell: Listening Practices, Race and Recordings, 1959-1978,” is a multidisciplinary examination of LP recordings and their role in the formation of racial and national listening practices. In order to do so, I look at the protocols and structures of perception and declaration in the late 1960s in order to make two primary and linked claims. First, the cultural and political upheaval of the period were often taken as evidence of a new order of cross-racial encounter. This new order was seen not only to draw white and black communities and individuals into different—if no less precarious—contact. It also forced individuals and communities on both sides of the color line to recalibrate the protocols of perception or what I call telling. To be sure, these recalibrations were multiple and often personal, so in excess of the carefully guarded divisions associated with and established by the color line. Second, because the record was one of the primary mediums through which cross-racial encounter was believed to occur, recordings were opportunities to stage new modes of telling. For artists like James Brown, whose late 1960s and early 1970s releases are explored, recordings became a ground upon which to revise the protocols of telling. For other artists, recordings were an opportunity through which to generate new performative modes of listening and playing. By embracing the record’s temporal multiplicity and disembodied nature, these songs—and the literature they inspired—foregrounded the performative and, in doing so, demoted the descriptive nature of telling.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37365782
- FAS Theses and Dissertations 
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