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Music, Poetry, Propaganda

Constructing French Cultural Soundscapes at the BBC during the Second World War


Claire Launchbury

Offering new perspectives on the role of broadcasting in the construction of cultural memory, this book analyses selected instances in relation to questions of French identity at the BBC during the Second World War. The influence of policy and ideology on the musical and the poetic is addressed by drawing on theoretical frameworks of the archive, memory, trauma and testimony. Case studies investigate cultural memories constructed through three contrasting soundscapes. The first focuses on the translation of ‘Frenchness’ to the BBC’s domestic audiences; the second examines the use of slogans on the margins of propaganda broadcasts. In the third, the implications of the marriage of poetry and music in the BBC’s 1945 premier of Francis Poulenc’s cantata setting of resistance poems by the surrealist poet Paul Éluard in Figure humaine are assessed. Concentrating on the role of the archive as both narrative source and theoretical frame, this study offers a new approach to the understanding of soundscapes and demonstrates the processes involved in the creation of sonic cultural memory in the context of global conflict.


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Acknowledgements vii


Acknowledgements This project grew out of doctoral research undertaken at Royal Holloway, University of London, supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. At Royal Holloway, I am very grateful for the support and guid- ance of fered by Julian Johnson, Colin Davis and Rachel Beckles-Willson as well as to colleagues in College, Andrew Bowie, Ruth Cruickshank, Robert Eaglestone and Eric Robertson in particular. I am grateful for the friendly support of my colleagues in French at the School of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Leeds and the Research Strategy Committee directed by Max Silverman. I undertook considerable archive research at the BBC Written Archive Centre in Caversham and would like to thank Rachel Lawson and Jessica Hogg for their help and Jacqui Cavanagh for her sterling maintenance of such a treasure trove. I should also like to thank the staf f of the Bibliothèque nationale de France, the Archives nationales, the Archives diplomatiques at the Quai d’Orsay, the Britten-Pears Library, the British Library and the reproduction services at the Beinecke Library at Yale. At Peter Lang I am grateful to Graham Speake and Hannah Godfrey for their editorial support and patience. Un grand merci radiophonique to Karine Le Bail, whose own work on the French broadcasting has richly informed my research. Grateful thanks also to Jenny Doctor, Peter Dickinson, Myriem Chimènes, Nigel Simeone, Lucinda Gordon-Lennox, Peter McMullin, Maeve McCusker who provided material, read, edited and commented on various stages of this manuscript. My mother,...

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