The Past's Digital Presence, February 19-20, 2010


17 - Evolving Reading Practices: "The Digitized Blues: Listening to Langston Hughes in the Age of the Online Sound Archive"

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The digitization of sound and the advent of the mp3 have made the music of the early twentieth century, once confined to the wax cylinder and the phonograph record, considerably more accessible than had been the case even ten years ago. As a result, twenty-first-century scholars are now enabled to resurrect the largely forgotten musics that once inspired artists of the modernist period. “The Digital Blues” explores these new interpretive possibilities by focusing on the blues poet Langston Hughes, finding that the online availability of century-old blues records — by black and white singers alike — situates his work within an interracial aesthetic that has too often gone unheard.

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This Article is Open Access