Swinging the Machine: Modernity, Technology, and African American Culture between the World Wars

By Joel Dinerstein | Go to book overview

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This project developed in fits and starts throughout my graduate education, and my first debt is to Shelley Fisher Fishkin, from whom I learned that scholarship is more a conversational process than a solitary endeavor. She encouraged its ungainly interdisciplinarity from the start and was an unswerving supporter of this work. Jeff Meikle introduced me to the history of technology and the study of its cultural effects; the germ of this work emerged in a caffeine-driven rant about big bands and trains I wrote to prove to him such a relationship existed. Much of my theoretical framework here I first discussed in long conversations with Gena Caponi-Tabery, whose combined historical and musicological expertise helped disabuse me of many romantic ideas about popular music left over from my years as a rock critic. Gena read much of this work as it came off the printer and always encouraged me to strive for clarity; I shall also never be able to repay her hospitality.

Sheila Walker introduced me to the anthropological discourse of African diasporic traditions in music, dance, and religion, and encouraged me in my attempts to understand the Yoruba cultural system in particular. Bob Abzug challenged me to think through my historical connections more clearly, especially regarding the relationship between African American music and American popular culture. Desley Deacon shared her frustrations with me concerning the inadequate historical context of the pre-1945 jazz discourse, and she encouraged me to assert bold claims in this work.

During my research I was privileged to have long conversations with two of the country's finest musicological minds. Albert Murray spent four hours with me one January afternoon in his apartment in a classic encounter between master scholar and junior seeker which I will always treasure. I had a similar encounter with Charlie Keil at El Sol y La Luna in Austin, Texas, and subsequent conversations with him at his home in Buffalo and at a conference in Washington, D.C. Charlie calls this field of study “grooveology” and its scholars “grooveologists.” May these terms become common parlance one day. I hope my work helps provide

-xi-

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