Folklore | Commemorative Song
F527 | 26097 | McDowell


To "commemorate" is to remember together and to elevate in memory,
and song is among the most powerful of commemorative media. This
seminar gives us an opportunity to explore the essential features
and functions of commemorative song in the world’s societies. We
begin by establishing a grasp on commemorative discourse, a primary
and primordial forum of communication, associated with significant
events, deep meanings, and transforming experiences. We aim at a
theory of commemorative performance linking stylistic effects in the
medium of expression to the articulation of immanent truth.

We then take up specific issues in commemorative song: the interplay
of words and music; the special power of music as a commemorative
resource; the capacity of commemorative song to shape memory and
history. We will inspect a range of song traditions including
ballads produced in the United States and México commemorating the
attacks of 9/11/01 and other current political events.

Readings will be drawn from folkloristics, performance studies, the
ethnography of speaking, ordinary language philosophy, and
sociolinguistics. Students will be required to produce a term paper,
and there will be a few shorter exercises as well.