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Singing Over John Brown's Body: Remaking Masculinity through Civil War Music

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Abstract:

The Civil War fostered a literary and musical explosion for American identity creation, affirming and hardening enduring myths of Old South, New South, city and rural. More than that, the music of the created during and hearkening back to the Civil War reified conceptions of race and gender in relationship to honor, justice, and duty. Like the folk and popular music of the American Revolution, Civil War music created in the North and South, became increasingly infused with the urgency of representing U.S. nationality as white, masculine and honorable. The idealization of the rustic and the rural that infused traditional country music, owes much of its ethos to the nostalgic and tragic sentimentality of images of both the confederate soldier and the heroic northern liberator. As Woodward writes, “conservative, humdrum, unheroic millions could now sing 'John Brown’s Body' in naïve identification with the demented old hero and partake, vicariously and quite inexpensively, of his martyrdom?” (74,The Burden of Southern History). Thus, like history and literature, folk music and popular music of the Civil War period was yet another theater in the war to rehabilitate white masculine honor. By analyzing the music, reviews, and popular reception of war-themed music in the U.S. from 1860-1900, this paper explores the ways that this music became a space for whites to culturally reconcile the Union though its strategic ambivalence about the core elements of the conflict.
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Association:
Name: 96th Annual Convention
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http://www.asalh.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p522161_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Graham, Natalie. "Singing Over John Brown's Body: Remaking Masculinity through Civil War Music" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 96th Annual Convention, TBA, Richmond, VA, <Not Available>. 2014-11-25 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p522161_index.html>

APA Citation:

Graham, N. J. "Singing Over John Brown's Body: Remaking Masculinity through Civil War Music" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 96th Annual Convention, TBA, Richmond, VA <Not Available>. 2014-11-25 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p522161_index.html

Publication Type: Invited Paper
Abstract: The Civil War fostered a literary and musical explosion for American identity creation, affirming and hardening enduring myths of Old South, New South, city and rural. More than that, the music of the created during and hearkening back to the Civil War reified conceptions of race and gender in relationship to honor, justice, and duty. Like the folk and popular music of the American Revolution, Civil War music created in the North and South, became increasingly infused with the urgency of representing U.S. nationality as white, masculine and honorable. The idealization of the rustic and the rural that infused traditional country music, owes much of its ethos to the nostalgic and tragic sentimentality of images of both the confederate soldier and the heroic northern liberator. As Woodward writes, “conservative, humdrum, unheroic millions could now sing 'John Brown’s Body' in naïve identification with the demented old hero and partake, vicariously and quite inexpensively, of his martyrdom?” (74,The Burden of Southern History). Thus, like history and literature, folk music and popular music of the Civil War period was yet another theater in the war to rehabilitate white masculine honor. By analyzing the music, reviews, and popular reception of war-themed music in the U.S. from 1860-1900, this paper explores the ways that this music became a space for whites to culturally reconcile the Union though its strategic ambivalence about the core elements of the conflict.


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