Amidst our conversations about a number of different topics in this course, I have found the topic of Nationalism most relevant to my papers. This was one of the first topics we considered during this class. The people of France were longing to find a unique musical idiom during the chaos of the interwar year
It seems that the other issue and themes we have discussed in his class, such as gender or sexuality are outgrowths of Parisian’s desire to find a unique identity. They are looking to find out what they value and therefore what is “French”. For example, when we looked at the different types of women who were present in Paris in the 1920’s, we see different opinions about the characteristics woman should embody.
I gained some insight into the confusion around nationality as a result of writing my first three papers. I was able to make value-judgements of music based on the characters from which I was writing. These value judgements often had to do with what would further the cause of French music or represent it well. In one case, I wrote from the perspective of someone who thought it would be beneficial to broaden Parisian’s ideas of valuable music to include American music as well. Regardless of the specific topic of the paper I was writing, I was able to see how the people of 1920’s Paris used nationality and musical identity as important lenses through which to consider the music that was being created and performed.
The issue of Nationality is so prevalent and surpasses borders and time periods. Every group of people has a desire to be remembered for something or to be considered the ‘most important’. When we compared the Ballet Russe and the Ballet Suedois, we attempted to make a value judgement on these institutions and decide which one is more worthy of our thought and consideration. I can imagine the supporters of each of these institutions defending themselves. They would want to be remembered as a crucial part of the development of Paris in the 1920’s. They would want to be a part of what contributed to Parisians finding a unique nationality.
While everyone is so concerned about figuring out what is truly “French” and therefore worthwhile, there also seemed to be so much acknowledgment of other cultures and ideas. Negrophilia seems to be incredibly prevalent for a society that seems to be trying so hard to avoid the ‘other”. The even ridiculed inclusion of other cultures seems to suggest that they are worth mentioning. To me, it seems that Paris in the 1920s was very confused. They were searching for a unique identity that could be found in Nationality, but they did not know how to achieve it.