Press Release

Dædalus Examines American Music in the Twentieth Century


Fall 2013 issue of Dædalus available October 17

NOTE: Please credit Dædalus, the Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, when citing this editorial material.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – How did music in the twentieth century both influence and reflect American culture? The Fall 2013 issue of Dædalus, the Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, examines how music—in Hollywood films, in concert halls, in private homes and public spaces—helped shape our modern selves.

The issue is guest-edited by American Academy Fellow Gerald Early, an essayist, culture critic, and professor at Washington University in St. Louis, together with musicologists Patrick Burke (Washington University in St. Louis) and Mina Yang (University of Southern California). In his introduction, Early notes that technology has made music ubiquitous, changing the way we interact with and perceive it. No longer constrained to live performances, music is now portable, editable, and easily obtainable. This shift, along with a growing focus on the concept of identity, has rendered music a powerful tool—socially, politically, and culturally.

Early describes the inextricable relationship between music and race: “an unavoidable topic when considering American popular music,” he argues. Early points toward Ronald Radano’s (University of Wisconsin-Madison) essay in the issue, which explores how the category of “black music” was in fact created by whites to define blacks and prescribe what they should play.

Other essays consider music’s relationship to identity. Nadine Hubbs (University of Michigan) highlights a cadre of gay classical composers who helped develop “America’s sound.” Patrick Burke examines how Sinatra-mania disrupted gender norms among bobby-soxers. And Daniel Geary (Trinity College Dublin) considers the alignment of class, criminality, and politics in the music of Johnny Cash.

The issue also includes excerpts from original works by drama critic and playwright Terry Teachout, composer Vernon Duke, and poet Weldon Kees, providing glimpses into the lives of some notable figures in twentieth-century music.

Print and Kindle copies of the new issue can be ordered at:

Essays in the Fall 2013 issue of Dædalus include:

  • The Screamers by Patrick Burke (Washington University in St. Louis)
  • Yellow Skin, White Masks by Mina Yang (University of Southern California)
  • Listening to the Now by David Robertson (St. Louis Symphony Orchestra)
  • Homophobia in Twentieth-Century Music: The Crucible of America’s Sound by Nadine Hubbs (University of Michigan)
  • The Ruth Crawford Seeger Sessions by Ellie M. Hisama (Columbia University)
  • Johnny Cash & the Politics of Country Music by Daniel Geary (Trinity College Dublin)
  • Hollywood as Music Museum & Patron: Bringing Various Musical Styles to a Wide Audience by Charlotte Greenspan (musicologist and pianist)
  • Swing: From Time to Torque (Dance Floor Democracy at the Hollywood Canteen) by Sherrie Tucker (University of Kansas, Lawrence)
  • Pioneers of the Concept Album by Todd Decker (Washington University in St. Louis)
  • Long Time, No Song: Revisiting Fats Waller’s Lost Broadway Musical by John H. McWhorter (Columbia University)
  • The Power of Suggestion & the Pleasure of Groove in Robert Glasper’s “Black Radio” by Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr. (University of Pennsylvania)
  • The Sound of Racial Feeling by Ronald Radano (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
  • Satchmo’s Shadow: An Excerpt from “Satchmo at the Waldorf” by Terry Teachout (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Excerpts from “Passport to Paris” by Vernon Duke (composer, songwriter)
  • “A Good Chord on a Bad Piano” by Weldon Kees (poet, painter, playwright, novelist, and pianist)


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