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MMaP lecture series kicks off

By Emilie Bourque Whittle

The Research Centre for the Study of Music, Media and Place (MMaP) is launching its 2011-12 lecture series.

The first talk of the year will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 12, at 7:30 p.m. in the MMaP gallery on the second floor of the St. John's Arts and Culture Centre.

Kicking off the series is Dr. Sherrie Tucker from the University of Kansas. She teaches American studies and is speaking on the topic she is currently exploring in her upcoming book, Dance Floor Democracy: The Social Geography of Memory at the Hollywood Canteen (supported by a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities).

First off, what's a Hollywood canteen?

"The Hollywood Canteen was a famous version of a USO-like (United Services Organizations) nightclub," Dr. Tucker explained, "that was operated by members of the guilds and unions of the motion picture industry for military personnel during the Second World War."

Her lecture is titled Torquing Back: Alternative Spins on Jitterbug Memory, Dance Floor Democracy and the Hollywood Canteen.

Dr. Tucker said the canteen was full of stars that were possible dance partners for a lucky, star-struck G.I.

"Bette Davis was the president of the canteen. John Garfield was the vice-president. Marlene Dietrich, Joan Leslie, the list goes on..."

And then there was the music.

"Big bands such as those led by Count Basie and Kay Kaiser donated the live, world-class soundtrack."

But beyond bringing the experience of the canteen to life for us, Dr. Tucker explores continuing struggles over social, cultural and political meanings of democracy in and about the U.S.

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