Roots and Refigurations

in Genre in Popular Music

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2007 | ISBN: 9780226350370
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226350400 | DOI:
Roots and Refigurations

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This chapter investigates the role of genre in a contemporary revival culture. It evolves from a case study of the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) and its representation of the American South in the 1930s. It also explores the soundtrack of the film and its connections with the culture of American roots music. O Brother is a larger-than-life Hollywood adventure that glorifies the past in accordance with dominant sensibilities of the present. It has contributed to the growth of the emerging culture of American roots music. The PBS products show that the word roots are being used as an essentialist metaphor for timeless authenticity in the context of a common cultural history. The O Brother soundtrack was not designed for the traditional bluegrass fan. The contemporary American roots music revival develops a new context for understanding some of the roots impulses.

Keywords: genre; O Brother; American South; soundtrack; American roots music; contemporary revival culture; cultural history

Chapter.  8581 words. 

Subjects: Popular Music

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