Friday, February 7, 2014

Faculty Forum: Jacob Hardesty, "The Jazz Problem: The Victorian-Modern Tension in 1920s Secondary and Tertiary Schools"

This presentation examines adult perceptions toward the impact critics believed jazz would have on young people in the 1920s and how educators responded to that fear. Despite a general dislike among both groups, university faculty and administrators allowed students more agency to shape the cultural life of the school than their secondary school colleagues, who sought to minimize young people’s exposure to jazz. Still, critics’ arguments at both levels aligned in their constant references to racial identities in music and female sexuality. Female students at both levels were viewed as particularly vulnerable to jazz’s “sensual rhythms” while also seen as guilty of provocative dressing, antagonizing still extant Victorian sensibilities. Among white critics, the case against jazz belies deeper fears about encroaching blackness through explicit and coded racialized language.

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