Colloquium: Overwriting Sound: Polish Commemoration in Context

  • Date: Jun 27, 2017
  • Time: 05:00 PM (Local Time Germany)
  • Speaker: Andrea F. Bohlman
  • Location: Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Lentzeallee 94, 14195 Berlin
  • Room: Small Conference Room
  • Host: Center for the History of Emotions
  • Contact:

The Center for the History of Emotions at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, led by Prof. Ute Frevert, cordially invites all interested to attend its summer semester 2017 colloquium

Andrea F. Bohlman, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Overwriting Sound: Polish Commemoration in Context

The talk unpacks the work sound does for three prominent memory projects in contemporary Poland with an ear to their aural histories. In the twenty-first century, the anniversaries of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (1943), the Warsaw Uprising (1944), and the first democratic elections (1989) are each orchestrated with an emphasis on the importance of participation by individual citizens. Singing loud, making noise, lamenting in silence, and amplifying historical sounds: these practices feature at each of these annual public commemorations. Musical repertories and commemorative performances, along with transmedia storytelling, crucially host and promote the ethics of this memory work. At the same time, as sing-along concerts, collective marches of silence, and open access listening stations fill the Polish capitol’s streets, the city also accrues an agency that at times overwhelms the particular and subjective experiences of participants.

In this presentation, Andrea F. Bohlman considers the role that aural history has in effecting this emotional and data overload. These anniversaries are in concert and in competition, and a study of their media history illuminates the mechanisms by which narratives can become overwrought and sound and song can become overwritten.

Andrea F. Bohlman is assistant professor of music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and currently a fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study in Berlin with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Across her work she shapes a place for music and sound in the cultural history of Eastern and Central Europe in the past two hundred years, particularly in Poland. Her research treats sound media as both a music historical archive as well as a documentary trail, making use of the toolboxes offered by sound and media studies. Most recently, she co-edited a special issue of Twentieth-Century Music with Peter McMurray devoted to tape and tape recording.

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