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Across the Waves: Transatlantic Sound Cultures in U.S.-France Radio Broadcasting
Derek Vaillant, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Grant details: https://securegrants.neh.gov/publicquery/main.aspx?f=1&gn=FT-59582-12
Sounds from the Life of the Future: Making Sense of U.S. Radio Broadcasting in France, 1921-1939 (Book Section)
Title: Sounds from the Life of the Future: Making Sense of U.S. Radio Broadcasting in France, 1921-1939
Author: Derek W. Vaillant
Editor: Jason Loviglio
Editor: Michele Hilmes
Abstract: In 1930 the award-winning French novelist and critic, Georges Duhamel condemned appetite for consumer goods and entertainment, and criticized commercial broadcasting, illustrating an important dimension of the global history of communications and culture. Well before the early 1930s, when semi-regular U.S. shortwave radio broadcasts began reaching France, concerned French citizens wondered about transatlantic connectivity and the specter of commercial radio. This article concentrates on French print journalism reporting on the changing U.S. broadcast landscape of the 1920s and 1930s. From the specific reportage and editorial commentary of Le Petit Radio (a booster of the French public radio system), three evocative themes emerge: critical reaction to the “wild West” of US radio growth, an equivocal response to the celebrated modernism of RCA’s Radio City, and claims that radio advertising degenerated culture, and must be limited or eradicated. The ideologically charged treatment of U.S. broadcasting in France that resulted casts fresh light on how ideas associated with “American radio” (and America) took hold within communications policy debates and French culture, as proponents of private and public models for national broadcasting competed for advantage in a widening arena of global connection and competition.
Book Title: Radio's New Wave
The Power of Piaf: Racial Formation and Nostalgia in Postwar U.S.-France Aural Culture (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: The Power of Piaf: Racial Formation and Nostalgia in Postwar U.S.-France Aural Culture
Author: Derek W. Vaillant
Abstract: This essay asks how the sound and symbolism of Edith Piaf resonates across time and space in French and U.S. cultural memory, and how interrogating the 'power of Piaf' in spaces as far apart as Mathieu Kassovitz' LA HAINE and early programs of the French Broadcasting System in North America can help us capture key elements of the transatlantic aural and cultural ties binding France and the U.S. culture in the history of transatlantic communications. I explore why and how the sound of Piaf became a crucial cultural resource for Radiodiffusion Française (RDF) the French national broadcasting system, which began producing programs for the international/U.S. market after World War II. It follows Edith Piaf's career as a metonym of modern French cultural stardom with global circulatory powers, and the ways that state-sponsored French broadcasting took up the power of Piaf. [forthcoming conference paper at American Studies Association Annual Conference, November 2012.
Conference Name: American Studies Association