Hugues Panassié contra Walter Benjamin: Bodies, Masses, and the Iconic Jazz Recording in Mid-century France
Abstract:As Walter Benjamin, domiciled in Paris, wrote and then in 1936 published his famous essay on the revolutionary potential of mechanically reproduced art, the right-wing French jazz critic Hugues Panassié—Europe's foremost authority on the music before World War II—was theorizing the new black American form as an agent of “traditional,” sacralized social re-organization. Re-situating these writers' works in the volatile French and European political contexts of the 1930s, and then going on to examine Panassié's postwar organization of the Hot-club de France, this article examines the question posed mid-century by these radicals of the right and left: how could the relationship between individual and society be transformed both practically and politically in face of art's mechanical reproduction?
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: July 1, 2012