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The Enduring Power of Cole Porter’s Music

Cole Porter (1891-1964) has become synonymous with the American jazz standard and the mid-century musical on Broadway and the West End, as well as in film. Many of his songs -- “Don't Fence Me In,” “I've Got You Under My Skin,” “Anything Goes,” “Every Time We Say Goodbye,” “Night + Day,” and “Too Darn Hot” -- are chestnuts for fans of blues, jazz, or musical theater. Alongside Berlin, Gershwin, Kern, and Rodgers, he generated the foundation to the American Songbook. And Porter’s lyrics are now so thoroughly diffused into the English language that they would ring familiar to those discovering his music today. 

This lecture will discuss what makes Porter's music so compelling for audiences and performers, including those who contributed to the 1990 benefit album "Red, Hot, + Blue."  This groundbreaking album brought together some of the decade’s hottest artists to record new versions of Porter's most famous songs to raise money in the fight against AIDS. Both groundbreaking and time-defying, "Red, Hot, + Blue" proved that these classic songs could surprisingly speak to a very different cultural moment. Simultaneously, their updated versions cast Porter's era in a whole new light.

Faculty Member: John Garrison, professor of english, digital studies, peace & conflict studies
Discussion Date: Wednesday, April 12 at noon

Meet Professor Garrison

John GarrisonJohn Garrison’s teaching focuses on the literature and culture of the early modern period in England, and includes courses on John Milton and William Shakespeare. His areas of expertise include English literature before 1700; the history of sexuality; memory studies; and peace studies.

Professor Garrison’s most recent books are Shakespeare at Peace (co-authored with Kyle Pivetti, Routledge, 2018), which explores the playwright’s relationship to pacifist movements of both the Renaissance and the twenty-first century, and a study entitled Shakespeare and the Afterlife (Oxford University Press, 2019). He is currently at work on a monograph entitled “The Pleasures of Memory in Shakespeare’s Sonnets” (Oxford University Press) and a critical anthology entitled “Peace and Pacifist Thought in Early Modern England” (Edinburgh University Press).

Professor Garrison has been awarded fellowships from the American Philosophical Society, Beinecke Library at Yale University, California Humanities Institute, Council of Independent Colleges/Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Folger Shakespeare Library, Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, Medieval Academy of America, Medieval Association of the Pacific, National Endowment for the Humanities, the Newberry Library, and the Renaissance Society of America. Most recently, he was named a 2021 Guggenheim fellow.

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Wednesday April 12
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
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