An aural history of the 1970s through the sounds of "Sesame Street" / Kathryn A. Ostrofsky.
- [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] : University of Pennsylvania, 2015.
2 volumes (vii, 504 leaves) : music ; 29 cm
- Local subjects:
- Penn dissertations -- History.
History -- Penn dissertations.
- As one of the longest running and most respected programs in the history of television, Sesame Street has become an American cultural institution. The Children's Television Workshop (CTW) launched Sesame Street in 1969 as part of a larger program of research into the possibilities of using television to teach and to deliver universally accessible preschool education to combat poverty and racism. Using sound as an historical subject and an historical source, this history of Sesame Street unites sound studies and media studies with the histories of childhood, social activism, the social sciences, and the music industry to challenge scholars' understandings of post-1960s America.
Sesame Street "sounded out" the 1970s, using musical and spoken sound to construct a fictional ideal neighborhood, and serving as a site for debate and a vehicle for experimentation about what that ideal should be. When the nation feared the sway advertising and television held over children, CTW framed Sesame Street as an attempt apply the characteristics of effective ads and commercial entertainment to educational content. Psychologists observed children watching Sesame Street to discover how to use repetition and participation to catalyze learning. Producers and activists argued over what accents, speech patterns and musical styles would create positive representations that might foster ethnic pride among African American and Latino audiences. Sesame Street 's Tin Pan Alley-style production and performance and its ad-inspired "magazine format" accentuate the importance of the old, familiar, and repeated, in a media culture often characterized as obsessed with the new. Sesame Street 's song parodies, pedagogical techniques, and repurposing of the theatrical and music-making practices employed by twentieth-century social movements demonstrate that during an era often lamented for a perceived decline in children's physical and mental activity and adults' musical activity at the hands mass media, audiences actually engaged and interacted with television and recorded music in many ways. Debates over the aural elements of Sesame Street reveal what meanings certain sounds conveyed and why they mattered to late twentieth-century Americans.
- Ph. D. University of Pennsylvania 2015.
Supervisor: Kathy Peiss.
Includes bibliographical references.
- Peiss, Kathy, degree supervisor.
Feros, Antonio, degree committee member.
Zuckerman, Michael, degree committee member.
Miller, Karl Hagstrom, degree committee member.
Suisman, David, degree committee member.
University of Pennsylvania. Department of History.
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