Join Glenda Goodman on September 14 at 4PM in Leah M. Smith Hall for a lecture titled, "Promiscuous Protest Songs: Radicalism and Repression in the Revolutionary Age."
Cheaply printed songs were ubiquitous in the late eighteenth century, as the political discontent feeding the revolutions in the United States and France roiling the Atlantic world found expression in popular culture. The importance of street song in the French Revolution is well known; crowds’ cries for liberty and brotherhood were interspersed with belting out “La Marseillaise” and “La Carmagnole.” So too is the subversive adaptation of British tunes such as “Yankee Doodle,” “Heart of Oak,” and “God Save the King” common knowledge among students of the American Revolution. By the end of the century, the power of political song to wreak upheaval was undeniable, and when British radicals developed their own repertoire the government response was swift and merciless. Repression of political song is not a story often associated with the era of revolutions, and it is one taken up in this talk. Focusing on a particular songster, this talk will document the British efforts to quash radicalism, then trace the musical and ideological transmission across the Atlantic, where U.S. radicals raised their voices (and took up the cause). Attending to how songs traveled and what they communicated, ultimately we can see how even in the most unprecedentedly revolutionary settings, little was actually new. The world may have turned upside down, but its contents were the same.