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Austro-German exile in America 1930-45: interrogating the relationship between science, technology and modern selfhood in cultural and musical discourses.

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - Exile and Technology (Austro-German exile in America 1930-45: interrogating the relationship between science, technology and modern selfhood in cultural and musical discourses.)

Reporting period: 2018-09-01 to 2019-08-31

Project title: ‘Austro-German exile in America 1930-45: interrogating the relationship between science, technology and modern selfhood in cultural and musical discourses’.

This project examines the relationship between technology, selfhood, and modernity in the context of the music and thought of Austrian and German émigré musicians and cultural theorists in the US from 1930 to 1945. The project looks beyond the boundaries of the nation state and the nexus of the composer and the musical work that tend to structure musicological enquiry. Instead, transnational historical methodologies are used alongside primary archival research to join a timely conversation in musicology about the intersections between histories of music and science. In the period 1930-45, (Austro-)Germany and America were scientific powerhouses. Against the backdrop of mounting political turmoil, both generated ethically controversial scientific and technological research simultaneously liberating and malevolent: atomic technology, cosmology, radar, eugenics, transportation innovations. Technology necessarily shapes ideas of selfhood, and the mass displacement of Austrian and German intellectuals to the US after the rise of the National Socialists created a ‘culture of exile’ in which, as émigrés integrated within the new context, diverse attitudes to the relationship between science, technology, and formulations of the self began to interweave. Using musical collaborations, spectacles, and events to illuminate and explore the range and ambivalence of those attitudes, the project aims to furnish a more finely grained historical understanding of the disconnections between Germanic and American relationships to technology and selfhood in the period. Supplying a contoured historical account of the relationship between technology and selfhood is critical for a current era in which we are grappling with technological debates ranging from smartphone addiction to the geopolitical ethics of technology's manufacture.

The research outcomes are a monograph developing the transnational methodology, based on the researcher's doctoral thesis (title: 'The Symphony in 1933'), and two articles as part of substantial work towards a second book. A further key objective is to establish an international interdisciplinary academic network for collaborative projects and conferences exploring technological and cultural/musical discourse in the global contexts of the first half of the twentieth century.
The monograph manuscript 'The Symphony in 1933' is complete and ready to be submitted to the publisher as requested, after the incorporation, collation, and review of new archival materials for two new case studies since the beginning of the project. As part of this strand to the project, two additional major peer-reviewed publications have been generated, 'Listening for the Intimspäre: Recovering Berlin 1933 through Hans Pfitzner's Symphony in C-sharp Minor', appearing in The Musical Quarterly in 2018, and 'Roy Harris's Symphony 1933: Biographical Mythmaking and Liberal Mythbuilding in the American West', in Journal of Musicological Research in 2019.

Towards the new book project, extensive archival research has been carried out in the US, Germany, and Austria, alongside a thorough secondary literature review. Two articles are currently in preparation. A total of nine peer-reviewed conference papers developing the material and methodology have been given in North America, Asia, and Europe, as well as more informal talks.

The researcher furthered her teaching experience and skills by lecturing and examining at Royal Holloway, University of London. As part of her training objectives, she gained Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) accreditation.

The establishment of the interdisciplinary research network has produced several key results. These include the launch of the network website, soniccirculations.com in January 2018, an international Study Day, 'Musical Thought and the Scientific Imagination', held at Harvard in November 2018, and a larger two-day international conference held in London in June 2019, 'Sonic Circulations 1900-1950: Musical Thought, Scientific Fantasies, Global Contexts'. An edited collection is in preparation, drawing on presentations and discussions at both meetings. An additional result is the continued success of the research blog for junior scholars hosted on the website.
The archival research conducted for the project has uncovered unique new sources. Interpreting those sources through critical literatures taken from science and technology studies (STS), musicology, and exile and diaspora studies has created new knowledge about exile composers and their musical collaborations in modernity, as well as new interdisciplinary readings that illuminate the relationship between exile, technology and selfhood. Extensive feedback on this work and research direction has been sought at conferences and other opportunities. A study day, titled 'Musical Thought and the Scientific Imagination' held at Harvard in 2018, with invited participants from US East Coast universities and Europe has yielded further new collaborative insights from leading thinkers in this research area, contributing to further progress beyond the state of the art. Likewise, a two-day international conference was held in London in 2019.

There have been numerous potential impacts. In terms of impacts on the research field, further collaborative projects and individual work may be inspired by the network's conference and study day. Knowledge exchange has been facilitated by the blog for early career scholars on the research network website, in turn prompting new directions in research. The profile of this area of interdisciplinary scholarship in the first half of the twentieth century has been increased, and an international network of interdisciplinary scholars has been further developed, strengthened and consolidated (the future edited collection building on the two network meetings will be a particularly significant tangible outcome here). In terms of socio-economic impact, careful attention has been given to issues of representation, including gender, at every stage of the planning of the research network, from blog solicitations, to study day invites, to conference keynotes.

There have also been potential impacts on the career development and profile of the individual researcher, who has had the opportunity to network extensively, to present her work internationally, to make significant progress on her publication portfolio, and to develop skills and experience working at two different university departments.
Exiled German Jewish composer Kurt Weill’s 'Railroads on Parade' at the 1939 New York World’s Fair