Listening for the Secret: The Grateful Dead and the Politics of Improvisation


Tuesday, July 18, 2017 12:00PM

Listening for the Secret: The Grateful Dead and the Politics of Improvisation
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Listening for the Secret: The Grateful Dead and the Politics of Improvisation


Join Author Ulf Olsson and Series Editor Nicholas Meriwether for a lunchtime conversation about Olsson's new book Listening for the Secret: The Grateful Dead and the Politics of Improvisation, now available from the University of California Press.

Listening for the Secret is a critical assessment of the Grateful Dead and the distinct culture that grew out of the group’s music, politics, and performance. With roots in popular music traditions, improvisation, and the avant-garde, the Grateful Dead provides a unique lens through which we can better understand the meaning and creation of the counterculture community. Marshaling the critical and aesthetic theories of Adorno, Benjamin, Foucault and others, Ulf Olsson places the music group within discourses of the political, specifically the band’s capacity to create a unique social environment. Analyzing the Grateful Dead’s music as well as the forms of subjectivity and practices that the band generated, Olsson examines the wider significance and impact of its politics of improvisation. Ultimately, Listening for the Secret is about how the Grateful Dead Phenomenon was possible in the first place, what its social and aesthetic conditions of possibility were, and its results.

This is the first book in a new series, Studies in the Grateful Dead, published by the University of California Press. This series explores the achievement, impact, and significance of one of the most iconic American rock bands, the Grateful Dead. Studies in the Grateful Dead presents original monographs and edited anthologies by experts representing a range of disciplinary perspectives and fields that highlight the complexity, power, and enduring appeal of this protean, compelling musical and cultural phenomenon.


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