The Getty Center
Past Event

A Parisian street singer / Unknown
Blogging Now and Then (250 Years Ago)
April 28, 2011
7:00 p.m.
Harold M. Williams Auditorium

Long before the Internet, Europeans exchanged information in ways that anticipated blogging. The key element of their information system was the anecdote, a term that meant nearly the opposite then from what it means today. In this lecture, Robert Darnton, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and Director of the University Library at Harvard University, examines how anecdotes, dispensed by libellistes and paragraph men, became a staple in the daily diet of news consumed by readers in 18th-century France and England. Anecdotes were also pilfered, reworked, and served up in books. By tracking anecdotes through texts, we can reassess a rich strain of history and literature.

Hélène Delavault / Photo: Jean Tholance
Street Songs and Sedition in 18th-Century Paris: A Cabaret-Lecture
April 30, 2011
7:30 p.m.
Harold M. Williams Auditorium

Although we tell ourselves that we are in an "information age," we forget that information ages existed in the past. Information merely took different forms and was spread by diverse media. In 18th-century Paris, most of it traveled through oral systems of communication, and the most powerful means of transmission was song. In this presentation, Hélène Delavault, a well-known cabaret artist in Paris, sings a dozen of the most popular and most seditious songs, and Darnton lectures on the media and police under the Old Regime. Belted out by street singers and memorized by people of all social ranks, the songs provided a running commentary on current events, and Parisians composed new verses to old tunes nearly every day. They were so effective that they provoked a political crisis in 1749, and the police conducted a witch hunt to wipe out the songs. Thanks to the detective work of the police, it is possible to follow the paths of the songs with great precision. And thanks to musical archives, we can recover the music.

Programs complement the exhibition Paris: Life and Luxury.

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