Rationalisation, Race, and the Weimar Response to Jazz


Rationalisation, Race, and the Weimar Response to Jazz
German Life and Letters
0016-8777, 1468-0483
Surveying articles on jazz in the Weimar‐era popular press, one finds that commentators and critics commonly read the music as an expression of primitive blackness, a product of a rationally organised, industrial mode of composition, or a strange combination of both. The rationalised/industrialised and black elements perceived in jazz were generally understood as antithetical; the concept of blackness itself was rarely scrutinised. In exceptional cases, writers began to view blackness as a media‐generated construct and thereby re‐situate race itself as a product of modern popular culture. Siegfried Kracauer stands out in this regard. He recognised that the response to jazz was rarely about the music itself, and his critiques of jazz culture and the encompassing fascination with blackness contain an unusual degree of critical reflection on the public imagination of race in the Weimar Republic
German Life & Lett
DOI.org (Crossref)