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Conference Papers Year : 2019

Articulating popular needs in British First world War Song


This talk is building on my previous work on a corpus of over 1 000 British wartime songs, (no doubt around a quarter of the total repertoire), and I will present an analysis of the role of wartime popular song in the lives of its working-class audiences. I will propose a view of song in particular as a ritualized response to popular anxieties and dreams. To speak of “articulating popular needs”, we need to be sure of what we mean by “needs”, “popular”, and by “articulation”. In 1914 Britain, popular means working-class: the peasantry has long been marginalized as enclosures and urbanization swept the country. As early as 1850, a majority of people in England lived in towns. In 1914, 69% of the population lived in towns bigger than 5 000 inhabitants. The question of the nature of popular “needs” opens up debates about material needs and social needs, alienation and possible false consciousness. Should we consider compensatory validation and collective relaxation as social needs of the period? I shall come back to this? And what about the process of articulation? : the dictionary give as a definition of the verb “to articulate” “to express (an idea or feeling) fluently and coherently”, but I am taking up a slightly wider sense here of taking and transforming social-psychological demands and placing them in the public sphere in a coherent structure (in this case on the stage).
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hal-02546915 , version 1 (19-04-2020)


  • HAL Id : hal-02546915 , version 1


John Mullen. Articulating popular needs in British First world War Song. PopKongress 2019 11. Jahrestagung der AG Populärkultur und Medien in der Gesellschaft für Medienwissenschaft, Feb 2019, Passau, Germany. ⟨hal-02546915⟩
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