Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Dear dawdlers,

Forgive this lazy scholar, returning after a prolonged sabbatical. Not that I have not been working, researching, and blogging, too—albeit on another site. (You can read some of those less lazy dispatches on Post-Post-Jew). I even watched the entire first season of Heroes. So you can tell, I have been productive. But I’m happier still to return to these pages and to you dear readers, for another semester of academic detective work, uncovering even more ways to get work done without leaving home.

Bringing education and entertainment to audiences where they lived was also a chief goal of the Circuit Chautauqua, the subject of today’s post. The University of Iowa library hosts Traveling Culture, an incredible collection of brochures and recordings from a local outpost of the Circuit Chautauqua, which brought performances and lectures to small towns around the country from 1904 to 1932. (Read a great introduction here). The digital collection is a remarkable window into American popular culture at the start of the twentieth century before movies and radio took off, ranging from a production of Les Miserables (decades before the musical) to Israel Zangwill’s Melting Pot.

And so many all-male quartets!

Be sure to listen to some of their 300 sound recordings, including bird impersonators, dialect comedians, and singing preachers. It’s a little like watching an episode of America’s Got Talent.

You can also read more about the origins of the circuit in The Chautauquan monthly magazine, digitized on Google.

Yours in pedagogy,


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Dear strolling students,

To end the week, I thought I’d point you towards the amazing Concert Vault, which includes an overwhelming number of live concerts from the 1960s to the present, to turn your living room into the Palladium.

A vaguely embarrassing confession: I didn’t discover the music of the 1960s and 1970s the way most people of my generation did (i.e. digging through their parents’ record collection). No, I first got into the songs of those long decades watching Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous as a freshman in collegeand I’ve been nostalgic for 60s and 70s culture ever since, Vietnam war be damned.

A more obviously embarrassing confession: since then, one of the bands I’ve always had a secret affection for is the originators of prog rock, Yes. Listen to the moog action in this 1974 rendition of “Roundabout,” as heard in New Haven. (Never heard of a moog? You best skip over to the Moog Archives.) But seriously, just look at this photo of Yes, and tell me not to feel a little embarrassed.


A dive into the Concert Vault archive reveals some other surprising gems, like The Beach Boys singing Elton John’s “Your Song,” one of Fleetwood Mac’s first performances of “Landslide,” and lots of clips from Bob Dylan and the Band. Check out my full playlist, to see more of my largely British-ish tastes.

For the less musically-inclined, some careful searching also turns up a 1977 Woody Allen interview and a 1972 Groucho Marx performance.

Harmonically yours,


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