Manitoba Historical Society
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Free Lecture on German Folk Music

Sounds of Ethnicity: Listening to German North America, 1850-1914

by Prof. Barbara Lorenzkowski,
Concordia University, Montreal

When: Friday, 11 April 2008 - 2:30 pm
Where: University of Winnipeg Room 3D01 (3rd floor, Duckworth Centre, near skywalk)

In the decades prior to World War One, the sounds of German folk music rang through towns and cities across North America. Commentators noted bemusedly at the popular "singers' festivals" that the "snatches of song" tumbling from private homes onto the streets made the urban soundscape "thoroughly ... Germanized." The singers' festivals also created new social spaces where German migrants and Anglo-Saxon audiences mingled. The festivals' offerings of music, mirth and sociability thus offer glimpses into an on-going dialogue between German-speaking migrants and Anglo-Saxon audiences. While sound created bonds between German celebrants, it also echoed their multiple identities as city and country dwellers, women and men, elite and ordinary folk, and "Canadians" and "Americans." As they were striving for harmony on stage, German Canadians and German Americans noted how different they sounded by the end of the 19th century.

Dr. Lorenzkowski teaches History at Concordia University. She is the author of numerous articles and book chapters, including "A Platform for Gender Tensions: Women Working and Riding on Canadian Urban Public Transportation in the 1940s" (Canadian Historical Review) and "Languages of Ethnicity: Teaching German in Waterloo County, Ontario, 1850-1916" (Histoire sociale/Social History, forthcoming). Her research interests include the history of German migrants in Canada and the United States, the intersections between gender, race, and space, and the history of "soundscapes" in nineteenth-century Canada.

Non-alcoholic drinks and munchies will be provided.

Posted: 31 March 2008

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