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No Business like Show Business! Popular Song around the World during the First World War

Posted: August 31st, 2015 | Filed under: Calls for Papers | No Comments »

Call for chapters in English for a new book project
No Business like Show Business!  Popular Song around the World during the First World War
Initiator : John Mullen, Université de Rouen, France, research team ERIAC

Key words : Cultural history, Popular song, performance, First World War

A considerable bibliography exists on nineteenth century popular song, and somewhat less on song from the first two decades of the twentieth century. The years of the First World War have been little studied, though in some countries this work has begun[1]. This book will go further towards filling this gap, working on the assumption that popular song of the time, often presented on the variety theatre stage and distributed by the sale of sheet music, expressed the joys, fears and fantasies of millions, and constituted a significant part of their history.

For this volume, we are hoping for a coherent ensemble of chapters presenting original research on a fair variety of countries, which look at the repertoires and processes of popular urban music industries in the war years and at the various pressures -political, economic, social and artistic- which shaped them. Elements of continuity, as populations struggle to maintain a sense of “life as usual” and elements of transformation due directly or indirectly to the war, will be studied. Hence the effects of rationing, of changing audiences, of propaganda and its limits, of the absence of menfolk or of the new roles of women in wartime might all be fruitfully examined.

The priority will be on countries directly involved in the war, (British Music Hall and Revue, US and Canadian Vaudeville, Italian, German and Austrian, Serbian or Hungarian entertainment halls ) but contributions will be considered concerning other nations. We particularly would like to include chapters on towns in non Western countries drawn into the war since they were part of European empires.

Our interest is not limited to those songs which speak directly of the war or of life in wartime (70% of British songs do not) although we would want such repertoires to appear centre stage.

Most chapters will cover songs and entertainment industries in the towns of the countries at war, but proposals are also welcome concerning non-commercial songs , in particular soldier songs, activist songs and religious hymns.

Once proposals for chapters have been considered, and a selection has been made, a book proposal will be made to Ashgate publishers for their “Popular and Folk Music” collection (who have published in 2015 “Popular Music in Britain during the First World War”). If this should not be successful, we are confident that we will be able to find another publisher of similar standing to take on the project.

Only work which has not before been published in English will be considered. Detailed proposals for chapters (around 500 words, with a 300 word biography of the person proposing) should be sent to:

[email protected] by 15 January 2015.

Use the same email address if you have any questions.

We expect to be able to respond a few weeks after this date.

The final chapters will no doubt be between 5 000 and 6 000 words, and will go through a full peer review procedure.

[1] See for example, for Britain: John Mullen, The Show Must Go On : Popular Song in Britain during the First World War, Farnham, Ashgate, 2015 and for France : Anne Simon-Carrère, Chanter la Grande Guerre : les « poilus » et les femmes (1914-1919) , Paris, Champ Vallon, 2014

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