Announcing our November 4th Speaker!

We are excited to announce that on Tuesday, Nov. 4th, 5:30pm, Dr. Lee Blackstone, Professor and Chair of the Sociology Dept at SUNY Old Westbury will be visiting to talk to LaMERG!  The talk will take place in the Linguistics Department Seminar Room (SBS S207).

Title:         Webs of Meaning:  The Sociology of Music and an Interpretation of Southern Italian Tarantism
Abstract:  The ancient music of the tarantism ritual, a ceremony to treat a supposed ‘spider bite,’ is a particular cultural formation of the southern Salento region of Italy. The music known as the pizzica tarantata allowed southern Italians to express, and endure, their conditions of hardship and alienation.  In this context, music is a healing medium against social alienation. The trajectory of tarantism’s history, however, has been fraught, and religious opinions as well as the advance of modernity resulted in a ‘painful listening’ experience.  Today, the past has been superseded by cultural activism and commercialism, moving the once stigmatic music towards social acceptability. This example allows us to examine how tradition and local culture are shaped by history, and how music may be transformed and reclaimed again for political and cultural resistance.  My discussion will consist of the following: first, a consideration of music and its relevance to society; second, a discussion of the concept of ‘noise’ and how it bridges concerns about music and deviance; and finally, a discussion of tarantism as found in the Salento.


All are welcome and we hope that you will be able to join us!
–LaMERG OrgComm

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