Composition/Theory doctoral candidate Jeremy Woodruff’s article “A Voice in the Dark: Subversive Sounds of the Living Newspapers and the Flint Sit-Down Strike of 1936-37” has been published by Interference: a Journal of Audio Culture. In his research, Woodruff explores the connection between electronic sound (both live and broadcast) in 1930s political theatre and political activism. He underscores the political nature of the Living Newspapers program of the Works Project Administration’s Federal Theatre Project and demonstrates the artistic use and experience of sound in labor actions, particularly in the Flint Sit-Down Strike. As Woodruff notes, his paper,
“… gathers evidence to suggest that the inventive modes of propaganda and defence used during strikes were not just tactics induced by the exigencies of a labour face-off, but creative and cultural products. These in turn were largely inspired by the avant-garde tendencies in theatre that infused the labour culture of the 1930s. These tactics were community statements of class-consciousness, bolstered by popular media forms and calculated for maximum impact on the public-at-large.”
The impact of social networking and digital connectivity on 21st-century political and artistic endeavors has been so dramatic that we may be tempted to imagine that present generations are the first to integrate emerging technology into public discourse so rapidly and thoroughly. But Woodruff’s research demonstrates how the emerging technologies of radio and sound reinforcement played just as significant a role in political and artistic expression of the 1930s, and that these cultural strands were deeply intertwined.
Read Jeremy Woodruff’s complete article.