Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

When Colleges Sang: The Story of Singing in American College Life

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

When Colleges Sang: The Story of Singing in American College Life

Article excerpt

When Colleges Sang: The Story of Singing in American College Life. By J. Lloyd Winstead. (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2013. Pp. xii, 340. $34.95, ISBN 978-0-8173-1790-4.)

As music has become a widely accepted lens for historians to explore the past, the variety and scope of such explorations has exploded. In When Colleges Sang: The Story of Singing in American College Life, J. Lloyd Winstead tracks the particular relationship between singing and the college experience while keeping tabs on the general relationship between music, higher education, and American life.

When Colleges Sang reveals the intimate and formal function of the college singing world, where, at first, young men challenged and accepted social and institutional expectations and, later, young men and women continued in the tradition. Audience members played an important role, too. For instance, the author explains the role of collegiate song during the 1893 Chicago world's fair, a well-known benchmark in American culture. At first, the choral director rejected college singers as not "'artistic' enough for the occasion" (p. 132). However, facing visitors' complaints, he relented, and soon glee clubs, which served as musical ambassadors for their institutions in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and banjo clubs gained access to the fair's stages. …

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