Anthem Quality

National Songs: A Theoretical Survey

Christopher Kelen

Christopher Kelen

Distributed for Intellect Ltd

144 pages | 7 x 9 | © 2014
Cloth $64.50 ISBN: 9781841507378 Published June 2014
Paper $40.00 ISBN: 9781783204724 Will Publish February 2015

Anthem Quality is a book about the lyrics of national anthems. In this theoretical survey, Christopher Kelen deals with the general meaning of an inter-national social phenomenon – the words we sing together with our compatriots when we assert ourselves to be national subjects. Like all social phenomena, the singing of an anthem is an event with a context. The persistence of an anthem, the changing of an anthem, the meaning of an anthem – these things have a subjective basis disclosed through contextual reading. In these pages, Kelen historicizes for us some of the world’s best-known national anthems, including “The Marseillaise,” “The Star Spangled Banner,” and “God Save the Queen” and considers how these and lesser known anthems deal with such life-and-death topics as authority, religion, love and devotion. The tear on the cheek, the chill down the spine, genuine willingness to sacrifice – however manipulable national feeling may be, there is no doubting the reality of the affect nations inspire. If anthems are anaesthetic, they are paradoxically stirring; if anthems are the muzak of a nation, they are a participatory muzak. This book investigates an icon the devout typically refuse to admit that they are worshipping.

The Loyal Toast – A Personal Introduction
1 Identification of the National Subject
The idea of the anthem in the world today
2 The Official Poem of the People
Anthems, their contexts and their common characteristics
3 The Classification of Anthems
Genre and speech act
4 Anthem Quality: Its Paradoxes and Parodies
The uniformity of differences and the automatisation of strong affect
5 Choosing and Chosen
The overt and covert us and them of national devotions
6 Anthems for a Better World
Cosmopolitan and postcolonial hymns
Conclusion: The Soul and Its Un/Official Stirrings
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