Strains of Dissent: Popular Music and Everyday Resistance in WWII France

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By Kurt Milberger and Michigan State University Press. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

During the German Occupation from 1940 to 1944, Resistance fighters, Parisian youth, and French prisoners of war mined a vast repertoire from a long national musical tradition and a burgeoning international entertainment industry, embracing music as a rhetorical resource with which to destabilize Nazi ideology and contest collaborationist Vichy propaganda. After the Liberation of 1944, popular music continued to mediate French political life, helping citizens to challenge American hegemony and recuperate their nation’s lost international standing.

Ultimately, through song, French dissidents rejected Nazi subordination, the politics of collaboration, and American intervention and insisted upon a return to that trinity of traditional French values, liberté, egalité, fraternité. Strains of Dissent recovers the significance of music as a rhetorical means of survival, subversion, and national identity construction and illuminates the creative and cunning ways that individual citizens defied the Occupation outside of formal resistance networks and movements.

Kelly Jakes is Assistant Professor in the department of communication at the College of Charleston. Her research focuses on rhetoric and culture, with special attention to social movements, resistance, and music. In her work, she examines how marginalized or dissident citizens use verbal and nonverbal discourse to build solidarity, reassign political authority, and contest norms of national identity, gender, race, and class.

Dr. Jake’s book Strain’s of Dissent: Popular Music and Everyday Resistance in WWII France, 1940-1945 is available at msupress.org and other fine booksellers. You can connect with the press on Facebook and @msupress on Twitter, where you can also find me @kurtmilb.

The MSU Press podcast is a joint production of MSU Press and the College of Arts & Letters at Michigan State University. Thanks to the team at MSU Press for helping to produce this podcast. Our theme music is “Coffee” by Cambo.

Michigan State University occupies the ancestral, traditional, and contemporary Lands of the Anishinaabeg – Three Fires Confederacy of Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi people. The University resides on Land ceded in the 1819 Treaty of Saginaw.

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