A lecture by Prof. Tyler Bickford (University of Pittsburgh)Â
Presented by Bard Ehtnomusicology, The IDEA Fund, Experimental Humanities, and American Studies
Date:Â Thursday, October 5 at 5:30 pm in RKC 103
Based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork at an elementary school in New England, this talk explores the politics and poetics of childrenâs everyday performances of mass media texts in school contexts. Elementary schools are places where the expressive environment is tightly regulated. But because schoolsâ pedagogical emphasis on literacy privileges language and communication as a field of action, expressive repertoires from popular music and entertainment media provide a powerful resource for children to challenge adult authority and claim childhood as a space of opposition, intimacy, and solidarity. An ethnographic perspective on the situated everyday activities in which children engage with poetic, musical, and narrative texts reveals that, in the âwildâ of everyday school life, mass media texts circulate in fragmentaryÂ and partial forms, as snippets, tropes, half-remembered quotations, puns, improvisations, and momentary performances that are powerful in part because of their ephemerality and incompleteness. In their everyday performances, children put forward a poetics tightly linked to new media formsâdrawn from the internet,mobile music devices, video games, and social mediaâto politicize and complicate the bureaucratic regime of school literacy and adulthood. In doing so, childrenâs performances point to new ways of thinking about the social structures that organize schools.