Writing Jazz: Race, Nationalism, and Modern Culture in the 1920s
This study examines how early writers of jazz criticism (such as Gilbert Seldes and Carl Van Vechten) and literature (F. Scott Fitzgerald and Langston Hughes)--as well as "jazz" performers and composers (such as Al Jolson, Sophie Tucker, and George Gershwin)--associated the music directly with questions about identity (racial, ethnic, national, gendered, and sexual) and with historical developments like industrialization. Going beyond the study of melody, harmony, and rhythm, this book's interdisciplinary approach takes seriously the cultural beliefs about jazz that inspired interracial contact, moralistic panic, bohemian slumming, visions of American democracy, and much more. Detailed textual analysis of fiction, nonfiction, film, and musical performance illustrates the complexity of these cultural beliefs in the 1920s and also shows their survival to the present day.
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