Between Modern and Postmodern Worlds: Theodor W. Adorno's Struggle with the Concept of Musical Kitsch Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Barnes, Molly Leeanna
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Music
  • The concept of “kitsch” remains a perennial concern for philosophers of aesthetics. Many distinguished writers have contributed to the literature on kitsch, yet the valuable work of the musicologist, sociologist, and philosopher Theodor Adorno (1903-1969) has been largely overlooked. Adorno nurtured an abiding interest in the topic of musical kitsch in particular, but was profoundly troubled by its implications for the cultural edification and psychological health of modern society. His writings also indicate that his ambivalence regarding kitsch became more acute with time. Through a close study of four texts by Adorno, including his analyses of specific musical works, I propose that Adorno's increasingly conflicted attitude toward musical kitsch reflects growing tensions between modernist and postmodernist cultural perspectives in the mid-twentieth century, tensions that have persisted strongly into the twenty-first century. Indeed, Adorno's thoughts regarding kitsch may help us understand musical aesthetics in his era as well as our own.
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  • In Copyright
  • Wörner, Felix
  • Master of Arts
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2012

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