Music, publics, and protest: the cultivation of democratic nationalism in post-9/11 America

Foster, Lisa Renee
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Since the events of September 11, 2001, national mourning has relegated the citizen’s responsibility to memorializing silence. The events of September 11, 2001 inaugurated a culture of mourning, erasing dissent from citizenship and relegating civic duty to the memorialization of silence. This project will consider how popular music was able to challenge such notions of citizenship through its abilities to tap into vernacular public spaces for the formation of counterpublic deliberation, democratic citizenship, and a public culture. Theories of the public sphere, nationalism, popular culture, and the rhetorical function of music highlight how popular music, in spite of its ideological baggage, creates a political identification that allows for the emergence of anti-war counterpublics to occupy space within the dominant public sphere, exemplifies how the textual circulation of dissenting ideas both create counterpublic spaces and demand critical rationality within them, and ultimately realigns the democratic citizen as the questioning citizen. Music is a rich multi-textual phenomenon that influences democratic deliberation. An investigation of this power is a significant contribution to critical rhetorical theory, as it offers insight as to how subordinated voices may access and shape dominant discourses via texts that are themselves the product of dominant-hegemonic systems.