Curating music curation

Sepko, Delaina (2015) Curating music curation. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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National cultural heritage institutions are charged with representative preservation of their countries’ cultural materials and the ways their staff undertake preservation activities impact to whom and how these materials are representative. Music is hailed as an integral part of a nation’s cultural heritage, but while aspects of its preservation are individually understood, their combined treatment in cultural institutions — music curation — and its ability to alter concepts of national identity are not. Consequently, we must ask how does music curation influence notions of national identity? By answering this question, this thesis seeks to contribute to our understanding of the ways that national cultural heritage institutions shape and promote a sense of national community. Since its beginning in 1800, the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. has adopted several roles: a congressional resource; a copyright repository; a research centre; a hub for and leader in the library community; and cultural heritage institution. These combine to make the Library of Congress the de facto national library of the United States. However, these roles are not inherently congruent and in some instances undermine each other. Additionally, music has not always been easily integrated into its mission and its collections. Functioning as a national library, the Library of Congress potentially performs significant roles in the preservation and presentation of music, activities that make it an appropriate case study for investigating how music curation affects notions of national identity. Therefore, this work is structured in the following way: first, it offers an historical overview of the Library of Congress’ three music related departments — the Music Division, the American Folklife Center and the Recorded Sound component of the Motion Picture, Broadcast and Recorded Sound Division — to illuminate political, cultural and aesthetic forces that shaped their developments and their approaches to music curation. Second, it presents Howard Becker’s art world as the analytical framework by which this thesis critically engages narrative and identity theories. Third, employing the Library of Congress as a case study, it then investigates eight music curation narratives and juxtaposes them against its image as a cultural heritage institution. Narratives, gathered during semi-structured interviews and presented as interpretive stories, provide a focused insight into the tensions between staff and institution as well as institution and projected notions of national identity. In the context of music curation, this thesis’ conclusions illustrate a gap between the Library of Congress’ iconic image and its actual image, one that is perpetuated by its focus on research.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: music, curation, cultural heritage
Subjects: F History United States, Canada, Latin America > F001 United States local history
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z665 Library Science. Information Science
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > Information Studies
Supervisor's Name: Stuart, Dr. Susan and Moss, Professor Michael
Date of Award: 2015
Depositing User: Dr Delaina Sepko
Unique ID: glathesis:2015-6357
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 26 May 2015 08:05
Last Modified: 29 May 2015 15:36

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