Discordant Democracy: Noise, Affect, Populism, and the Presidential Campaign paints a portrait of the political experience at a pivotal time in American political and social history. The modern political campaign is aestheticized and assimilated into mass culture, divorced from fact and policy, and nakedly tethered to emotional appeal. Through a multi-modal comparative examination of the sonic and emotional cultures of the 2008 and 2016 campaigns, Justin Patch raises critical queries about our affective relationship to modern politics and the impact of emotional campaigning on democracy. Discordant Democracy asks: how do campaign sounds affect us; what role do we the electorate play in creating and sustaining these sounds and affects; and what actions do they generate? Theories from anthropology, cognitive science, sound studies and philosophy are engaged to grapple with these questions and connect bombastic mass-mediated political events, campaign media and individual sonic experience. The analyses complicate notions of top-down campaigning, political spin, and enthusiastic millennial populism by examining our role in producing and animating political sounds through conversation, applause, laughter, media, and music.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: Listening to the Savage Heart of the American Dream
2. Ethnography: Getting Spun as Method
3. Campaign as Modern Magic
4. Prelude: The Noise of Politics / The Politics of Noise
5. Sonic Democracy: The Noise is the Signal
6. The Passions of Politics: Affect, Empathy, and Sound
7. The Populist Sensorium: The Politics of Sounding and the Performance of Listening
8. Our Politics: Deafened and Dumbstruck
9. Conclusion: In Defense of Noise
Justin Patch is Assistant Professor of music at Vassar College whose research focuses on sound and emotion in contemporary US political campaigns. His scholarship has appeared in Soundings, The European Legacy, The Journal of Sonic Studies, Americana, The Ethnomusicology Review, American Music, The Journal of Popular Music Studies, and several edited volumes on music and education.