Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Aural Paris (Aural Paris: The Changing Identities of The City of Sound in Music, Film and Literature, 1870-1940.)
Reporting period: 2018-09-01 to 2020-08-31
The main objectives of the project were: 1. To investigate the role that sound played in the construction of a Parisian/French identity during the Third Republic. 2. To shed new light on scarcely analysed archival sources. 3. To study the capacity of artistic representations of the city to become part of ‘the case’ and to blur fiction and reality in life-writing. 4. To test a theory of modernist sound ecology alongside established notions of the urban nature of art in fields such as painting, literature and film. 5. To disseminate musicological scholarship amongst different audiences in order to foster new ways of thinking about the urban environment and its soundscape. 6. To contribute to the recent ‘history of the senses’ trend in urban studies by overcoming the visual focus of this field and analysing the site-specificity of French art during the Third Republic.
In view of these impediments, a most relevant aspect of the time period that this report covers (the last six months having been completely turned upside down by the outbreak and the limitations it imposed not only on the accessibility of materials but on international mobility, which is a key aspect of MSCA actions), the main results achieved so far have succeeded in aligning with the objectives set at the beginning.
The project has produced two international conferences, it has allowed the researcher to deliver eight conference papers, to participate at roundtables and workshops, she has been invited to disseminate on the radio and to write for outreach publications, she has published four book chapters, one encyclopedia entry and two review articles, and she is working on an edited journal issue and a monograph.
Precisely the context in which the project ends in the wake of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, attests to the life-saving role of research for society. It is hard to write about societal implications and socio-economic impact knowing that, in the middle of the pandemic, mayor funding bodies like the European Commission are planning to cut the budget of its flagship programmes include Horizon. We have seen that when lockdown was enforced, people turned to the arts for solace. In the wake of fake news, all scientific research fields including the social sciences and the humanities are needed to continue to offer reliable data, and to continue fostering debates and a critical attitude towards the information that society receives from various media. A strong case needs to be defended in favor of cross-disciplinarity, avoiding a polarization that would situate STEM and the humanities and the arts at opposing ends of the scientific spectrum. In the particular case of the arts and music specifically, the action has shown that large sections of the general public are thirsty for well-documented, scientifically sound research to be made accessible to them. This project has shown that music can become a prism through which to study issues that affect all of us, like certain emotions that are experiencing a peak at present like nostalgia. With music studies, outreach is a natural step to follow and one that society at large has proven to be grateful for because, after all, who doesn’t like music?