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Title:Sounding the last mile: Music and capital punishment in the United States since 1976
Author(s):Siletti, Michael James
Director of Research:Magee, Jeffrey
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Magee, Jeffrey
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Magee, Gayle; Buchanan, Donna A.; Bashford, Christina
Department / Program:Music
Discipline:Musicology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):music
capital punishment
death penalty
sound
death
popular music
film
history
politics
execution
United States
prison
murder
crime
media
law
race
gender
violence
spectacle
song
Illinois
Texas
acoustemology
journalism
art
Abstract:Since the United States Supreme Court reaffirmed the legality of the death penalty in 1976, capital punishment has drastically waxed and waned in both implementation and popularity throughout much of the country. While studying opinion polls, quantitative data, and legislation can help make sense of this phenomenon, careful attention to the death penalty’s embeddedness in cultural, creative, and expressive discourses is needed to more fully understand its unique position in American history and social life. The first known scholarly study to do so, this dissertation examines how music and sound have responded to and helped shape shifting public attitudes toward capital punishment during this time. From a public square in Chicago to a prison in Georgia, many people have used their ears to understand, administer, and debate both actual and fictitious scenarios pertaining to the use of capital punishment in the United States. Across historical case studies, detailed analyses of depictions of the death penalty in popular music and in film, and acoustemological research centered on recordings of actual executions, this dissertation has two principal objectives. First, it aims to uncover what music and sound can teach us about the past, present, and future of the death penalty. Second, it considers what the death penalty reveals about music, sound, and the extent to which they can serve as vital sources of information, knowledge, and emotion. Ultimately, I hope to inspire further musicological research on this complex and controversial practice in the United States and in other countries.
Issue Date:2018-12-07
Type:Thesis
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/102495
Rights Information:Copyright 2018 Michael Siletti
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-02-06
Date Deposited:2018-12


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