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Swing Changes

Swing Changes

Big-Band Jazz in New Deal America

David W. Stowe

ISBN 9780674858268

Publication date: 10/01/1996

Bands were playing, people were dancing, the music business was booming. It was the big-band era, and swing was giving a new shape and sound to American culture. Swing Changes looks at New Deal America through its music and shows us how the contradictions and tensions within swing—over race, politics, its own cultural status, the role of women—mirrored those played out in the larger society. Drawing on memoirs, oral histories, newspapers, magazines, recordings, photographs, literature, and films, Swing Changes offers a vibrant picture of American society at a pivotal time, and a new perspective on music as a cultural force.


  • Swing Changes, with its emphasis on the importance of social elements in the creation of meaning in swing, is an excellent example of how jazz and other arts are being studied now in some quarters of the academy. Stowe writes in a clear style and with a thorough knowledge of swing-era American history.

    —John Bostwick, American Scholar


  • David W. Stowe is Associate Professor of Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures and director of American Studies at Michigan State University.

Book Details

  • 299 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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