Almanac Songs and Singers: Protest, Détournement and Incorporation

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    This article takes a look at the practice of the radical leftist singing group The Almanac Singers (whose members included Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, among others) from their earliest anti-capitalist and anti-war songs to their later, more liberal contributions to negotiating a unified (war) effort against Fascism.
    Issues addressed herein will include assessing strategies in the practices of musical performers who have political agendas, investigating the usefulness of Guy Debord’s terminology of détournement ("turning expressions of the capitalist system and its media culture against itself"), as well as the Birmingham School’s set of terms: commodification, familiarization and incorporation.
    The paper will progress through a lyrics and performance analysis, and will contextualize these with attempts to situate The Almanac Singers culturally and politically in the turbulent public and clandestine discourse climate of the US in the late ‘30s and early ‘40s.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalAmerican Studies in Scandinavia
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)29-46
    Number of pages16
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015
    EventCurrents and Countercurrents: Nordic Association of American Studies Biennial Conference - University of Karlstad, Karlstad, Sweden
    Duration: 24 May 201326 May 2013
    Conference number: 23


    ConferenceCurrents and Countercurrents
    LocationUniversity of Karlstad


    • Protest music, song lyrics, American politics

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