Facing the Future with a Foot in the Past Americana, Nostalgia, and the Humanization of Musical Experience

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Steinbock, Christine Sarah




Americana, a musical genre defined by its place in a lineage of roots music styles and a nostalgic outlook is enjoying increasing mainstream popularity in response to general societal unease about the fast pace of social change and the increasing presence of technology in everyday life. Americana artists’ invocations of the past cultivate a psychic landscape of collective memory that quells fears of change by asserting the sustained value of the past. Instead of actively resisting social and technological change Americana artists, listeners and promoters embrace technology in service of a
nostalgically-motivated humanization and disintermediation of musical performance and consumption. Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings (who perform as “Gillian Welch”) and their 2011 album The Harrow & the Harvest are analyzed vis-à-vis the ways in which their musical and visual invocations of the rural past dialogue with a psychic landscape of collective memory.


American Studies
Mass Communications




Carleton University

Thesis Degree Name: 

Master of Arts: 

Thesis Degree Level: 


Thesis Degree Discipline: 

Music and Culture

Parent Collection: 

Theses and Dissertations

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