World Records 2015

Thursday, March 19, 2015 - 8:00am to Friday, March 20, 2015 - 5:00pm
Wisconsin Idea Room, Education Building

The 2015 World Records Symposium (March 19, 2015) will meet in conjunction with the Vernaculars of the Global Midwest (March 19-20, 2015).

World Records Symposium

The 2015 World Records Symposium will delve into the ways diverse Midwestern communities used early broadcasting technology to support local and traditional languages, cultures, and music.

The received history of American broadcasting focuses on the sky-piercing towers and homogenizing output of national radio networks in New York and Los Angeles, but the Midwest takes the prize for the earliest broadcast station—9XM in Madison, Wisconsin, which eventually became Wisconsin Public Radio. In its early days, Midwestern broadcasting consisted of isolated communities and minority cultures using 20th century technology to create and maintain traditional cultural and linguistic literacy. This form of “narrowcasting” (as opposed to the vast throw of national network radio “broadcasting”) is the heretofore unexplored engine that reveals the bottom up retention of regional identity in an era otherwise defined by the top-down mass media model.

By fostering conversation about the rich history of locally-produced Midwestern radio—narrowcasting in both its cultural and geographical senses—we seek to both uncover and understand the relationship between local and mass culture as it manifested in this particular region. In so doing, the history of radio can come to more fully represent the on the ground practices of communities throughout the country.

Vernaculars of the Global Midwest

The American Midwest – center and periphery, home and way-station – is a paradoxically parochial yet cosmopolitan place, a deeply rooted region inextricably interconnected with the larger world. Its diverse indigenous and immigrant peoples have vigorously sustained, abandoned, altered, invented, revived, extended, combined, and consumed an astonishing range of enduring and emerging cultural expressions. Vernaculars of the Global Midwest explores the rooted yet convoluted elements of the region’s distinctive buildings and landscapes, languages and dialects, music and song through an interdisciplinary series of presentations, panel discussions, performances, and workshops focused on field research, archival collections, and digital mapping.

Convened by:

Anna Andrzejewski (Art History, Building, Landscapes, and Culture, UW-Madison)
Susan C. Cook (School of Music, UW-Madison)
James P. Leary (Folklore, Scandinavian Studies, UW-Madison)
Joseph Salmons (Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures, German, UW-Madison)
Henry Sapoznik (Mayrent Institute for Yiddish Culture, UW-Madison)

Sponsored by the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures, the Mayrent Institute for Yiddish Culture and the Center for the Humanities, with support from the Humanities Without Walls consortium, based at the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. The Humanities Without Walls consortium is funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Exhibits at the symposium generously provided by Jeanette Casey and Tom Caw at Mills Music Library, and Lindsey Meier and Sheila Leary from the University of Wisconsin Press.

All events are free and open to the public.

Let us know you’re coming by sending an email to (Registration is suggested but not required.)