Digitizing Folk Music History: Class Notes, 4/19

Going Deep Into the Folk Revival.


  • Robert Cantwell, When We Were Good, 116-188, 241-382.
  • Ellen Stekert, “Cents and Nonsense,” in TT, 84-106.
  • Folk Revival 2 Listening Mix.
  • Watch Pete Seeger: The Power of Song.


  • 1. Where Are We? Schedule. Getting more texture about the folk revival now.
  • 2. Pete and the Folk Revival, What is the power of the “power of song”? (Clip from film)
  • 3. Timeline in When We Were Good
    • 1890-1920 Aristocratic
    • 1910-1950 Leftwing
    • 1950-1970 Revivalist
    • 1970-Present Roots replaces folk…why?
  • 4. Deep History and Vestigal Typologies in the Folk Revival
    • Stekert, writing during the revival, saw three types:
      • (1) Traditionalists (2) Imitators (3) Utilizers

Vs. Cantwell, who identifies deeper historical lineages at play in the “cultural ectoplasm” of the folk revival

  • Genteel and Revolutionary, Burke and Cobbett
  • Nobles, Patrons, Patriots, and Reds in relation to the folk (Class divide up and describe your role)
  • The deep history at work here…
  • Noble, traces of feudalism
  • Patron, the legacy of the rise of the bourgeoisie
  • Patriot, the sense of American nationalism or regionalism without systematic theorizing
  • Red, the abstract “people” in place of persons in the name of social transformation
  • At stake are the cultural underpinnings of democracy itself? The dream that all people can be noble and equal in the continual context of social hierarchy and inequality of various sorts. This produces the folk for Cantwell?


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