Andrea Bohlman, 16 Feb 2017

Title of the Talk: Sound and Handicraft in 1960s Poland

When? 16 February 2017 (Week 5) (17:00-18:30)

Where?  The Barn at St John’s College (Kendrew Quad)

Speaker: Andrea F. Bohlman (University of North Carolina)

Abstract: This paper explores the the distribution of music through Poland beyond the socialist state’s official record labels. I focus on an unusual format that was pervasive and cheap: the homemade flexidisc. These so-called “sound postcards” were crafted and decorated by amateur recordists out of paper and cheap laminate, circulated through back channels and, most often, worn out by repeated playback. In my presentation, I unpack the media fluency and domestic labor of their makers, connecting the work and the private listening that such bootlegs demanded to other economies (and aesthetics) of handicraft under state socialism. The sound postcards—artifacts of material investment and creative production at once—offer an opportunity to rethink accessibility and music behind the Iron Curtain.

Speaker Biography: Andrea F. Bohlman is assistant professor of music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and currently a fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study in Berlin. Across her work she shapes a place for music and sound in the cultural history of Eastern and Central Europe in the past two hundred years, particularly in Poland. Her research treats sound media as both a music historical archive as well as a documentary trail, making use of the toolboxes offered by sound and media studies. She weaves together archival work and ethnographic method, as in her publications on the Polish Solidarity movement, song festivals, and tape recording.

Event hosted as part of the Seminar in Ethnomusicology and Sound Studies Series, based at St John’s College, University of Oxford.

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