The Program in the History of the Book in American Culture (PHBAC) is hosting a new series of Virtual Book Talks. This installment features Billy Coleman, postdoctoral fellow in early American history with the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy at the University of Missouri, who will present on his recent book Harnessing Harmony: Music, Power, and Politics in the United States, 1788–1865 (The University of North Carolina Press, 2020).
Following the creation of the United States, profound disagreements remained over how to secure the survival of the republic and unite its diverse population. In this pathbreaking account, Billy Coleman uses the history of American music to illuminate the relationship between elite power and the people from the early national period to the Civil War.
Based on deep archival research in sources such as music periodicals, songbooks, and manuals for musical instruction, Coleman argues that a particular ideal of musical power provided conservative elites with an attractive road map for producing the harmonious union they desired. He reassesses the logic behind the decision to compose popular patriotic anthems like "The Star-Spangled Banner," reconsiders the purpose of early American campaign songs, and brings to life a host of often forgotten but fascinating musical organizations and individuals.
The Virtual Book Talk Series showcases authors of recently published scholarly monographs, digital-equivalents, and creative works broadly related to book history and print culture. Each installment includes an informal presentation from the author and a Q&A with the audience. These talks are streamed live for registered participants and are recorded for posterity. Talks typically last one hour.
Information on future PHBAC book talks may be found at https://www.americanantiquarian.org/virtual-book-talks.