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JUR UFIR






Art as History and Epic: Re-Examining Hale Woodruff's

Talladega College Murals


College of Fine Arts, University of Florida


In the summer of 1938, Buell Gallagher, President of
Talladega College in Alabama, invited well-known artist
and educator Hale Aspacio Woodruff to serve as a visiting
professor of art history at the southern black college. While
at Talladega, Woodruff was asked to paint a mural for the
newly constructed William Savery Library. The murals
were to commemorate the building of the new library and
showcase Talladega's dynamic history and its importance
to African-Americans. According to an interview with
Woodruff conducted by Albert Murray in 1968, Gallagher
wanted a mural that would represent the historical event
that ultimately led to the establishment of black southern
colleges like Talladega-the mutiny aboard the Amistad.'
In the spring of 1938, Woodruff began work on the
mural while living and teaching at Spellman College in
Atlanta. His work resulted in two related sets of images:
one on the history of the College itself, and the other
recounting what has come to be known as the Amistad
incident (fig. 1). Through this mural, Woodruff
successfully visualized the history of Talladega, the
American Missionary Association, and most notably,
African-Americans. By utilizing the Amistad incident as a
metaphor for the state of contemporary southern racism,
Woodruff used the murals as an opportunity to address
concerns of its to address his own concerns as well as those
of his viewers. Existing literature on Woodruffs murals
recognizes that they addressed themes of Africanisms,
slavery, colonialism, and religious conversion. However,
through the study of archival materials and an in-depth
analysis of the murals themselves, it is clear that
Woodruff's achievement was still more subtle and
complex, and that his murals addressed two other concerns:
challenging the demoralizing perception that African
Americans had passively accepted slavery; and responding
to contemporary outrage over a veritable epidemic of
lynchings that persisted through the 1930s. Thus, I argue
that Woodruff went beyond the mandate of providing an
historical account of Talladega College and the Amistad
incident, to produce a powerful visual intervention in the
contemporary racial and political landscape.


1 Interview with the artist conducted by Albert Murray, "Oral History: Interview
With Hale Woodruff' Archives ofAmerican Art, 1968.


Figure 1: Hale Woodruff, The Amistad Murals in the Savery Library at
Talladega College, 1938-1939

Born in Cairo, Illinois in 1900, Hale Aspacio Woodruff
began to develop his art as a young child. In the early
1920s, Woodruff attended the John Herron School of Art in
Indianapolis where he studied landscape painting.
Woodruff also studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and
Harvard University. Although he resisted moving to New
York like many of his fellow artists had, Woodruff did so
in 1926 and entered and won the Harmon Foundation's
first competition. The bronze medal awarded him one
hundred dollars and sponsorship for study in Paris.2 These
funds, along with contributions from friends and family,
allowed Woodruff to spend four years in Paris studying at
the Academie Moderne (in the atelier of Henry Ossawa
Tanner in 1927) and the Acaedemie Scandinave.3
Upon his return to the United States in 1931, Woodruff
felt the aftershock of the stock market crash of 1929 and
suffered the effects artists living in the late twenties bitterly
struggled with. African Americans were among the many
visual artists working during the 1930s who became part of
the intense ideological struggle provoked by the


2 Gary A. Reynolds and Beryl J. Wright, Against the Odds: African-American
Artists and the Harmon Foundation (Newark: The Newark Museum, 1989), 32.
3 Hale 11 50 Years of Hs Art (New York: The Studio Museum in Harlem,
1979), 74.


University of Florida I Journal of Undergraduate Research I Volume 10, Issue 4 I Summer 2009


Amina Naseer





AMINA NASEER


Depression. Artists like Woodruff had to focus on the
reality of survival over practicing their art. In the wake of
the stock market crash, President Franklin Delano
Roosevelt enacted the Works Progress Administration
(WPA) as a part of his New Deal domestic reform program
to provide work to millions of Americans. Under the
Works Progress Administration, the Federal Arts Project
was a relief program designed to employ artists who could
use their talents to raise morale by bringing art into public
places. Murals were an integral part of the Federal Arts
Project for they allowed ordinary citizens to see American
art that reflected nationalist ideals and values in public
spaces like libraries, schools, and post offices. One of the
most important artists to appreciate the opportunity to
reach general audiences with these realistic murals was
Woodruff. However, according to M. Akua McDaniel, the
few WPA programs for artists on both the state and local
levels could not totally alleviate their impoverishment and
many had to look for teaching jobs to supplement their
incomes.4
Fortunately at this time, Woodruff received a job offer
from Atlanta University's President, Dr. John Hope. In the
fall of 1931, Woodruff was hired to build a fine arts
department in the Atlanta University Center. Along with
developing the art program, Woodruff taught art classes at
the university and his students assisted him in his various
FAP projects in the Atlanta area. His first mural, The
Negro in Modern American Life, installed at David T.
Howard Junior High School during 1933-34, was designed
to encourage students at the junior high school during their
studies. The four-part mural visualized themes such as
music, art, agriculture and literature, establishing his
interest in using murals to encourage African-American
students to defy stereotypes with a solid education.
With the Negro in Modern American Life, Woodruff
realized that "his murals needed improvement if he was
ever going to 'paint great significant murals"', At this time
he applied for and received a fellowship from Columbia
University's International Institute of Teachers College to
serve as an apprentice to Diego Rivera in Mexico during
the summer of 1936.6 Rivera's revolutionary art resonated
with American artists during the 1930s for they were able
to relate Rivera's political themes with American art that
was developing amidst harsh societal changes. Under
Rivera, Woodruff "learned a little about fresco


painting"--how to prepare a wall, grind colors, etc.-but
also was inspired to pursue art as a tool for social action.
Woodruffs fellowship provided him more knowledge
than just the tedium of mural painting, however. Woodruff
and Rivera shared a similar history and Rivera's influence
on Woodruff is better measured by his encouragement
towards Woodruff to utilize his increasing social
consciousness as the subject for his works. Through this
experience, Woodruff was able to study the political nature
and historical significance of mural art as a post-
revolutionary movement. Woodruff articulated his debt to
Rivera in his interview with Murray, saying:

I'd gone through art school, then the sort
of structural Cubist concept in Europe, and
down there went into a social conscious form
of painting. This was pursued further by my
going to Mexico and working as an apprentice
of Diego Rivera, in 1936. He was a social
conscious painter... So you see I've been
around in different places, all of which have
left a chain of various styles in my work. But I
somehow always come back to the so-called
black image, however I had tried to portray it.8

Amalia Amaki argues, "The experience enhanced
[Woodruffs] own sensitivity to the implications of the
southeastern region in the United States-an important
point of origin for many African-Americans."' Woodruff
was sensitive to the poor living conditions of rural
Southerners and the negative impact of Jim Crow laws and
racial segregation. He translated these sensitivities into
paintings, prints, and drawings that influenced many of his
students in Atlanta.
Woodruffs experience with Rivera proved to be
invaluable in 1939 when he was commissioned to paint the
Talladega murals the new Savery Library. The works were
commissioned in the one-hundredth year of the Amistad
incident as a tribute to the American Missionary
Association for assisting a group of African captives who
revolted against their captors and commandeered the slave
ship Amistad. The theme commemorates the violent
shipboard resistance of a group of West Africans from
Sierra Leone, the Mende, to forced enslavement at the
hands of Spanish colonialists, and their subsequent
juridical resistance after being brought to the United States


4 M. Akua McDaniel, "Re-Examining Hale Woodruff s Talladega College and
Atlanta Murals" in Hale W Nancy Elizabeth Prophet, and the Academy
(Atlanta and Seattle: Spelman College Museum of Fine Art in association with
University of Washington Press), 77.
5 McDaniel, 78.
6Ibid.


7 Murray Interview, 1968.
'Ibid.
9Amalia Amaki, "Hale Woodruff in Altanta: Art, Academics, Activism and
Africa" in Hale I :y Elizabeth Prophet, and the Academy (Atlanta
and Seattle: Spelman College Museum of Fine Art in association with University
of Washington Press, 2007), 30.


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HALE WOODRUFF'S TALLADEGA COLLEGE MURALS


in 1839. Following their widely publicized trial, the Mende
captives were repatriated to West Africa in 1842. The
mural pays tribute to the men who escaped the horrors of
slavery and honors those who defended them (including
former US President John Quincy Adams) while on trial in
New Haven, Connecticut. Woodruff captures the highlights
of these events in three separate panels on the west wall of
the Savery Library lobby.
In 1839, some forty Mende Africans were kidnapped
and taken to Havana on a Portuguese slave ship to be sold.
While they were transported onto a Spanish carrier,
ironically dubbed El Amistad (friendship), the Mende
mutinied against their captors (fig.2). Led by their chief
and captain, Cinque, the Mende ordered the Spanish to turn
the ship back toward Africa. According to Alvia Wardlaw,
the Spanish obeyed their orders-during the daylight
hours. Through the night, they steered the ship northwards
across the Atlantic along the Eastern seaboard of the
United States and eventually docked in New Haven,
Connecticut. The battle between the Mende and the
Spaniards continued in the courtroom as the slaves and
their captors went to trial for over two years in the
Connecticut Supreme Court (fig. 3). Then Attorney John
Qunicy Adams defended the Mende's rights to freedom
while the Spaniards accused them with murder and mutiny.
Adams' emphasis on the fact that the United States
ultimately had no jurisdiction in the matter in the first place
helped the Mende win their case, and also earned the
Amistad incident recognition as one of the first human
rights trials in America.
Abolitionists helped raise funds for the Mende to return
to Sierra Leone in November 1841 (fig. 4) and many
whites traveled with them in order to establish a Mende
mission in Africa (some of the West Africans had
converted to Christianity during their stay in New Haven).
Through this initiative, the American Missionary
Association was founded. The association is still in
existence today and is credited with the founding of many
black colleges in the south, including Talladega.10
With this commission, it became Woodruff's
responsibility to fully acquaint himself with the events and
the people involved with the incident. He traveled to New
Haven to study a series of drawings in the collection of the
New Haven Historical Society which included: actual
depictions of the vessel the Amistad, representations of
costumes and weapons, and architecture of the period.
Also, Woodruff extensively studied over thirty-two pencil
drawings of the African captives, done by William
Townsend who worked as a sketch artist during the trial, in
the possession of the Yale University Library. These


10 Alvia Wardlaw, "A Spiritual Libation" in Black Arts Ancestral Legacy (New
York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1990), 66.


served Woodruff in his effort to establish a foundation of
historical accuracy for his murals, which as Alvia Wardlaw
argues, bear clear connections to the Townsend
likenesses."
Despite his research and attention to detail, Woodruff
took some liberties, for instance, including his own self-
portrait as a figure sitting amidst the captives. By
deliberately placing himself in this pivotal chapter of
African-American history, Woodruff implied continuity
between the present and such dramatic moments in the
history of the African-American battle for freedom in the
United States. Through this gesture, Woodruff insists that
his viewers need to embrace emotionally the pain and
struggle associated with slavery. In doing so, Woodruff
hoped that his viewers would celebrate the Mende's
courage and perseverance and try to emulate those traits in
their daily lives.
Yet, beyond historical accuracy, Woodruff also shaped
his mural series to instill young black students of Talladega
College with an understanding of the historical legacy of
slavery. He wanted to encourage students at Talladega, and
the students he taught in Atlanta, to resist contemporary
challenges to black enfranchisement. Amaki explains, "He
pushed the boundaries of traditional teaching by
challenging students to consider art as a tactical conduit of
ancestral legacy and a strategic impetus for social
change."1


Figure 2: Hale Woodruff, Panel I: The Mutiny, Savery Library at Talladega
College, 1938-1939


1 Wardlaw, 67.
12 Amaki, 29


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AMINA NASEER


Figure 3: Hale Woodruff, Panel II: The Trial, Savery Library at Talladega
College, 1938-1939


Figure 4: Hale Woodruff, Panel III: The Return, Savery Library at Talladega
College, 1938-1939

Just as the slaves aboard the Amistad freed themselves
from their bondage, Woodruff hoped that blacks in 1930s
America would fight for their basic human rights. If John
Adams and other fore-fathers could see the importance of
freeing people who were controlled against their will, then
why couldn't contemporary politicians lift the
discriminatory, disheartening restrictions placed on African
Americans in the South and elsewhere?
Woodruffs figurative style of the 1930s was bold and
muscular. The curvilinear rhythms of the murals are
reminiscent of Rivera, as are the bold uses of color and
vegetation in the work. The earthiness of the colors in the
mutiny panel is suggestive of the natural tones of Africa, as
well as the wood tones of much of the continent's art. By
referencing Africa through the wood tones of the boat, the
dark skin of the Mende against the pale skin of the
Spaniards, and the brute strength of the men, Woodruff is
linking contemporary African-Americans to the 1838
Mende. Rather than suggesting that African-Americans
passively accepted slavery, Woodruff is utilizing aspects of
African-American heritage to encourage students at
Talladega to resist victimization and discrimination. In
choosing the library as the location for the murals,
Woodruff hoped that the information which served as the
murals' subject matter would be instilled in the students'


minds and serve as a frame of reference for their resistance
to negative discriminatory practices in the South. He is
warning students that history may soon repeat itself and
without strength, courage, and a strong leader like Cinque,
they would become slaves themselves-restricted to the
bondage associated with segregation and lynchings.
While Woodruff may be best known for his Amistad
murals, the artist also produced at this time additional
works commenting on Negro life in the South. These
works, along with an understanding of Woodruff s
commitment to black history and also to art as a tool for
political action, help elucidate the ways in which he used
the historical subject of the Amistad to address
contemporary concerns.
Southern lynchings of blacks stirred Woodruffs
conscience deeply, and inspired him to design a series of
block prints that were just as impressive and poignant as
his murals (yet in a much more harsh and scathing
manner). Woodruffs linocut images document shack
homes, black churches, outhouses, chain gangs and most
notably, lynchings. Woodruff was one of thirty-seven
artists to display in the exhibit, An Art Commentary on
Lynching held at the Arthur Newton Galleries in New York
in 1935. The exhibition organizers hoped that visual art
could play a significant role in opposing lynching by
increasing public awareness and moving viewers toward
support for proposed legislation to illegalize lynching.
Woodruffs prints combine references to black
victimization and Christian redemption (both of these
themes are traced in the Amistad murals).13
In the linocut Giddup!, c. 1935 (fig. 5), the victim is
clothed and strong in the face of his white attackers.
Woodruff delineates a cross on his chest-a sign that his
faith would sustain his dignity. Langa asserts, "Woodruff s
depiction of this figure powerfully communicated his
desire to preserve the dignity of his subject. His
iconographic choices also implied that black men
functioned as morally innocent scapegoats in white men's
violent efforts to enforce their social control."14 This
argument illustrates how lynching violence was a way for
white Americans to maintain solidarity across divisions of
national origin and class. The Spaniards use a similar mob
mentality of physical violence to exert control over the
Mende.




13 Helen Langa, "Two Antilynching Art Exhibitions: Politicized Viewpoints,
Racial Perspectives, Gendered Constraints," American Art vol. 13, no. 1
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press & The Smithsonian American Art
Museum, 1999), 1-2.
14 Langa, 29.


University of Florida I Journal of Undergraduate Research I Volume 10, Issue 4 I Summer 2009





HALE WOODRUFF'S TALLADEGA COLLEGE MURALS


Figure 5: Hale Woodruff, Giddupi, 1935. From the Selectionsfrom the Atlanta
Period 1931-1936, printed by Robert Blackburn in 1996, linocut on chine-colle

Just as in Giddup!, moral strength is visualized in the
panel about the trial of the Mende-the victims, especially
their leader captain Cinque, stand strong and poised in the
face of their antagonists. Before living in New Haven, the
Mende were characterized by the brute strength of their
semi-nude muscular bodies, but after their conversion to
Christianity the Mende were Westernized and their
strength now existed within their redeemed Christian souls.
When Woodruff depicts the revolt, he takes advantage of
the maritime iconography of taught and coiled ropes to
evoke contemporary concerns about lynching which were
so often expressed through similar forms (fig. 6). And
when depicting the return of the Mende, Woodruff is sure
to include images of the bible as a symbol of hope and
redemption (fig. 7). The use of Christian iconography also
serves as a visualization of the missionary work of the
abolitionists who would later form the American
Missionary Association.
Such ropes and Christian references appear, for
instance, in By Parties Unknown, c. 1935 (fig. 8). In this
image, a hanging victim lies dead on the steps of a run


down church. Helen Langa argues that lynch violence
served primarily as a "state sanctioned terrorism" that
allowed whites to enforce control across racial and class
divisions.15 By depicting the victim on the steps of a
dilapidated African-American church, Woodruff comments
on how lynching affected the dignity of the African-
American community as a whole.
Woodruff s lynch victims can be seen as martyrs as
well. Just as the Mende did, these victims remained poised
and strong in the face of their antagonists. Despite the
tribulations they faced as a result of the color of their skin,
and their violent deaths, Woodruff suggests that they
overcome these circumstances in a spiritual realm. Both of
Woodruff s lynch victims were depicted in a pious way:
one with a cross on his chest, and the other on the steps of
a church. The Mende's redeemed Christian souls would
return to Africa and spread the word of God to other West
Africans. Although harsh and violent, the lynching prints
and the murals, provide hope and optimism to
contemporary African-Americans. Woodruff illustrates that
with faith, good can always come to those who fight for
their freedom.
Woodruff s contemporary prints at the Anti-Lynching
exhibit and the Talladega Murals, both speak of the modem
enslavement of African American people (some of whom
remained quiet in the face of White terrorism and racial
persecution). While on the surface it may seem that the
murals were just an account of history visualized, they
served as calls to action about contemporary events. The
murals at Talladega served as a reminder to students that
not all Africans passively accepted slavery and that they
should not passively accept theirs-segregation and racial
violence in the South. Lynching imagery would demand
action from African-Americans to fight against their
contemporary enslavement just as the Mende did.


Figure 6: Hale Woodruff, Detail of Panel I depicting ropes, The Mutiny, 1938-
1939


15Ibid.


University of Florida I Journal of Undergraduate Research I Volume 10, Issue 4 I Summer 2009





AMINA NASEER


Figure 7: Hale Woodruff, Detail depicting the Holy Bible, The Return, 1938-
1939

In addition to the scathing lynching prints completed
before his Talladega years, Woodruff completed some
paintings in the same style as the Amistad during his
residency at Talladega. As seen in the prints, Woodruff s
use of line helps him visualize bold movement in his
works. His figures are dynamic, poised, and Woodruff uses
line and shading to highlight the masculine contours of the
men's bodies. In stark contrast however, is Woodruff s
Negro Boy, c. 1939 (fig.9).16 The boy is weak and quiet,
and symbolizes the African-American community in the
South. While there is no dynamism or conflict in the
painting, the high-key color palette, dramatic folds of the
clothing, attention to wood details, and overall style are
very reminiscent of the figures in the Amistad mural. The
boy is somber and lonely, and he represents the entire
African-American community living in the South during
the 1930s and 40s.


Figure 8: Hale Woodruff, ByParties Unknown, 1935. From the Selectionsfrom
the Atlanta Period 1931-1936, printed by Robert Blackburn in 1996, linocut on
chine-colle

Woodruff used bold and vivid colors to create exciting,
powerful images in the Amistad mural. He may have hoped
that with this exciting mural the students would be roused
to action. However, in the Negro Boy, Woodruff depicts
loneliness and sadness. Woodruff exhibited the painting in
1942 at the Exhibition of American Portrait Painting.17
Perhaps Woodruff was concerned that his desire for social
change would not be realized or that the students would not
heed his call to action. A proper understanding of their
ancestral legacy would ensure that the students would work
courageously to end racial violence. By exhibiting Negro
Boy in a nationally circulated exhibition, Woodruff
visualized the emotional state of African-Americans.
Woodruff provided hope and optimism to his audience in
Talladega, for they were mostly all southern blacks. The
exhibition that circulated the Negro Boy was operated by
the American Federation for the Arts, a national art
organization, which primarily drew a white audience. By
circulating the painting nationally, Woodruff was showing


16 Also known as Little Boy. 17 Amaki, 32.


University of Florida I Journal of Undergraduate Research I Volume 10, Issue 4 I Summer 2009





HALE WOODRUFF'S TALLADEGA COLLEGE MURALS


Figure 9: Hale Woodruff, Negro Boy, 1938

white Americans the negative impact of racial violence in
the South. By choosing a young boy as his subject, rather
than a strong West African man, Woodruff poignantly
illustrates his desire for social reform. He also avoids
presenting this white audience with an image of violent
resistance by blacks. Instead he appeals for sympathy. This
suggests his canny tactics for addressing different
audiences. By displaying his art to people of all races and
social classes, Woodruff showed Americans that in order to
achieve reform, strength and a drive for change was needed
from all Americans, black and white alike.
Future murals such as, The Art of the Negro c. 1950
for Atlanta University's Trevor Arnett Library explored
themes similar to those in the Amistad series although in a
more direct way. Wardlaw contends that The Art of the
Negro mural was conceived between two periods in which
African-Americans looked to Africa as a source for their
heritage: the New Negro Movement, started by Alain
Locke in the 1920s, and the politically and culturally
charged Civil Rights Movement that emerged in the 1950s.
Both of these movements would attempt to stir black
consciousness and it was Woodruff s goal in his artwork to
do the same. In 1970 Woodruff claimed, "I'd hoped the
work would be an inspiration to all the students who


entered the AU (Atlanta University) library. I'd hoped
they'd look up and wonder about what they saw.""18
In conclusion, Woodruff's Amistad murals and other
artworks remain a testament to the skill of a great artist. He
served as an inspiration as he perfected the use of art as an
impetus for social reform. While he is not alive to see it
toady, it can be said that the in light of the most recent
presidential election, much of Woodruffs dream for
freedom was realized.

Bibliography

Amaki, Amalia. "Hale Woodruff in Atlanta: Art, Academics, Activism and
Africa," Hale Woodruff, Nancy Elizabeth Prophet, and the Academy.
Atlanta; Seattle: Spelman College Museum of Fine Art; In association with
University of Washington Press, 2007.
Hale Woodruff: 50 Years of His Art. New York: The Studio Museum in Harlem,
1979.
Langa, Helen. "Two Antilynching Art Exhibitions: Politicized Viewpoints, Racial
Perspectives, Gendered Constraints." American Art vol. 13, no. 1 (Spring,
1999): 11-39.
McDaniel, M. Akua. "Re-Examining Hale Woodruffs Talladega College and
Atlanta Murals," Hale Woodruff, Nancy Elizabeth Prophet, and the
Academy. Atlanta; Seattle: Spelman College Museum of Fine Art; In
association with University of Washington Press, 2007.
Murray, Albert. "Oral History: Interview With Hale Woodruff' Archives of
American Art, 1968.
Reynolds, Gary A., Chicago Public Library Cultural Center, David C. Driskell,
Gibbes Museum of Art, Newark Museum, and Beryl J. Wright. Against the
Odds: African-American Artists and the Harmon Foundation. Newark, N.J.:
Newark Museum, 1989.
Wardlaw, Alvia. "A Spiritual Libation," Black Art--Ancestral Legacy: The
African Impulse in African- American Art. Dallas, Tex.; New York: Dallas
Museum of Art; Distributed by H.N. Abrams, 1989.


18 Woodruff Qtd. in Wardlaw, 68.


University of Florida I Journal of Undergraduate Research I Volume 10, Issue 4 | Summer 2009







The Lost Decade: Infant Mortality in Ghana


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Florida


Introduction

Ghana is hailed as "an island of peace and stability" in
the volatile landscape of sub-Saharan West Africa; a
success story of the World Bank and International
Monetary Fund (Atakpu, 2004). Four peaceful democratic
transitions between 1996 and 2008 have placed Ghana
firmly, in the eyes of the world, as the clear leader amongst
sub-Saharan African countries in the race for human
development. In spite of this, the infant mortality rate in
Ghana is high relative to the rest of the world. It is a
contributing factor in the ranking of Ghana as 135th for
human development out of the 177 countries studied by the
2007-2008 United Nation's Human Development Report.
The level of poverty reduction and economic stability
achieved in Ghana since the year 2000 has not been
matched by a proportional reduction in the infant mortality
rate which, rather than trending downwards as expected,
has stagnated (Department for International Development,
2008).
Physical quality of life can be described by a number of
indicators. One of the most important and reliable is the
infant mortality rate (Shen and Williamson, 1997). As the
main causes of infant mortality are highly preventable, in
places where infants are regularly dying the physical
quality of life is poor (Frey, Field, 2000). Ghana is an
example of economic growth and human development not
progressing at commensurate rates-evidenced by the
stagnation in the reduction of infant mortality experienced
over the past decade.
This paper examines the factors associated with infant
mortality rates, along with the possible reasons for the
persistence of high levels of infant mortality in Ghana.
Sub-Saharan Africa is subject to conditions which make its
infant mortality rates higher than in the rest of the world.
Though Ghana has achieved more economic success than
most of its sub-Saharan African counterparts, most of the
countries in the region are stricken by similar issues. While
certain factors contributing to the stagnation in Ghanaian
infant mortality like the Human Immunodeficiency Virus
(HIV) seem obvious, others are more insidious and
difficult to isolate. This paper provides substantial evidence
that the failure to reduce measured infant mortality rates in
Ghana between 2000 and 2007 is due mainly to extremely


high levels of neonatal mortality. Also, the poor allocation
of foreign aid has helped to perpetuate an infrastructure of
healthcare and education that is inadequate for the needs of
the country.

Measurement Issues

Economic growth is often measured by the gross
domestic product (GDP) per capital. This measure is
problematic when determining levels of development as
per capital income may vary widely amongst a population.
A few very rich people may raise the GDP to a level that is
not representative of the majority. Gross National Product
(GNP) and its variant GDP tend to undervalue and exclude
the contribution of women as much of their work is
undertaken within the household and the service sector
(Harris, 1997). In addition, the quality of data in de-
veloping countries is often poor, leading to incorrect
assessments of GDP (Nassar and Payne, 2007). The sole
use of GNP or GDP as a measure of development risks
excluding vital components of the economy and painting
an inaccurate portrait of the level of economic
development.
Despite the best efforts of agencies (The World Health
Organization, The United Nations, etc.) the accuracy of
demographic data obtained in developing countries is
questionable (Sibai, 2004). The most common mistakes
made in data collection tend to cause an underestimation of
the infant (death > one month), and more specifically
neonatal (death < 28 days), mortality rate. Heaping, the
phenomenon where parents report the death of an infant
but round the age up to one year, is problematic as it leads
to a misclassification of the death as a child mortality
rather than an infant mortality (Johnson et al., 2005).
Parents are also likely to underreport deaths that occur
early in infancy which then causes an underestimation of
the neonatal morality rate (Ghana Statistical Services and
MacroInternational Inc.,1999). With these statistical
discrepancies in mind, the question must be asked: is the
stagnation of infant mortality in Ghana real? Or, have data
collection and reporting methods merely improved, causing
more deaths to be accurately reported?
A qualitative analysis of the literature finds that levels
of neonatal mortality in earlier decades were under-


University of Florida I Journal of Undergraduate Research I Volume 10, Issue 4 I Summer 2009


Genevieve Harper







GENEVIEVE HARPER


estimated to a greater extent than today while rates of
infant mortality have actually been falling. When the two
are combined to find the overall infant mortality rate, there
is indeed a stagnation caused by the greater reported
number of neonatal deaths. This paper finds support for the
hypothesis that the greater involvement of international
bodies in data collection within Ghana since its democratic
transition may have improved the accuracy of demographic
statistics obtained since.

Why Are Infants Dying?

While the factors that affect infant mortality are wide-
ranging and difficult to isolate, sub-Saharan Africa is
subject to certain diseases and environmental issues that
substantially contribute to high levels of infant mortality.
Many infants in Ghana are dying from inherently fixable
problems. The examination of individual contributing
factors provides insight into what might be done to fix
these problems. This paper hypothesizes that improved
female education is necessary to end the stagnation in the
reduction of infant mortality in Ghana (Gill, Pande and
Malhotra, 2007). In addition, continued economic
development will lead to an improved physical quality of
life for the population and eventually reduce the infant
mortality rate.

Neonatal Mortality
In order to meet the millennium development goals of
reducing child mortality for those under age 5, Ghana must
conquer its high incidence of neonatal mortality. Neonatal
mortality (death < 28 days) has increased, whereas there
has been slight improvement in mortality for infants aged 1
to 11 months (Pond, Addai and Kwashie, 2005 p. 1846).
The neonatal mortality rate increased from approximately
30 per 1,000 in the 1998 Ghana Demographic and Health
Survey (GDHS) to 43 per 1,000 in the 2003 GDHS
(Ghana's Development Agenda and Population Growth,
2006, p 21). It is possible that recent demographic surveys
have underestimated the number of neonatal deaths
occurring by either contributing them to infant deaths or
simply by the parents not reporting them (Johnson,
Rutstein and Govindasamy, 2005). A reduction in neonatal
deaths is highly achievable, yet in order to do so certain
Ghanaian cultural taboos regarding child-rearing must be
overcome.
Regional differences are most apparent when dealing
with cultural taboos surrounding child rearing. Newborn
babies in certain cultural settings within Ghana are denied
colostrum, the mother's nutrient rich first milk, during the


first few days of life. This denial is due to the belief the
colostrum is dirty and will cause the baby to be ugly
(Gyimah, 2005). A study that took place in rural Ghana
concluded that, "16% of neonatal deaths could be saved if
the infants were fed from day 1 and 22% if breastfeeding
started within the first hour" (Edmond et al., 2006 p. 384).
Not only do cultural beliefs include breastfeeding, but
they also often dictate the type and amount of food women
are allowed to consume while pregnant. The women of the
Mole-Dagbani group of northern Ghana are denied protein
during pregnancy, which in turn significantly affects the
women's nutritional status as well as the infant's birth
weight (Gyimah, 2005). Low birth weight babies comprise
from 60 to 80% of neonatal deaths (Lawn, Cousens and
Zupan, 2005 p. 896). Low birth weight can contribute
indirectly to neonatal deaths by making the infant more
vulnerable to diarrhea, sepsis and pneumonia (Black et al.,
2008). Maternal mortality is also strongly correlated with
neonatal mortality (Lawn, Cousens, and Zupan, 2005).
Between 1990 and 2005 there has been very little reduction
to the maternal mortality rate in Ghana, which quite
probably has contributed to the stagnation in the reduction
of infant mortality (Gill and Pande, 2007). Decreasing
maternal deaths and increasing health care coverage to
under-served areas is vital to reducing neonatal mortality.

HIV/AIDS
Nowhere has HIV/AIDS had a more devastating impact
than in sub-Saharan Africa. It seems logical to conclude
that the failure to reduce infant mortality in Ghana is a
result of the increasingly deadly epidemic. However, infant
mortality in Ghana requires closer examination. According
to the United Kingdom's Department for International
Development (DFID), Ghana is an anomaly for sub-
Saharan Africa in that it has a relatively low rate of
HIV/AIDS with only 3.2% of the population infected
(DFID, 2008). As of 2005 the United Nations reported that
Ghana's HIV/AIDS rate was in decline for the first time in
five years (UN office for the coordination of humanitarian
affairs, 2005).
While still an official measure of the prevalence of
HIV/ AIDS in Ghana, the data used to obtain the afore-
mentioned results is quite probably incomplete. It is
difficult to ascertain the true presence of HIV/AIDS in the
population due to social stigmas surrounding the disease
and lack of health care facilities. This leads researchers to
believe that only approximately 30% of cases are reported.
In addition, variations in gender, region and occupation are
often overlooked in the collection of HIV/AIDS statistics
in Ghana (UNICEF, 2008). The divide between North and


University of Florida I Journal of Undergraduate Research I Volume 10, Issue 4 I Summer 2009







INFANT MORTALITY IN GHANA


South Ghana is particularly stark; prevalence rates of 3 to
6.5 percent exist in southern areas and approximately 1.8
percent in the less affected northern areas (United Nations
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 2008).
A possible reason for the discrepancy in HIV/AIDS rates
between the North and South could be that there are very
few health care facilities in the rural Northern areas, thus
making it almost impossible for people to be tested even if
they are aware of the issue.
Under these circumstances, HIV/AIDS could be having
a much larger impact on infant mortality than otherwise
estimated. "The epidemic is concentrated in countries that
are low performers in life expectancy and infant and child
survival rates. It thus prevents them from catching up with
the high performers or at least from catching up as fast as
they would otherwise do" (Neumayer, 2004). An
improvement in HIV/AIDS treatment would undoubtedly
improve the Ghanaian infant mortality rate, yet likely not
to the same extent as treatment and prevention of other
problems such as diarrhea and malnutrition

Birth Order and Birth Spacing
A restructuring of birth spacing in Ghana is vital to
achieving a reduction in infant mortality. Birth order, birth
spacing, age and education of the mother are intrinsically
linked to infant mortality rates. Infants that are born first,
or are in high birth order amongst their siblings have higher
rates of mortality due in large part to the youth of the
mother (Ghana Statistical Services and MacroIntemational
Inc., 1999).
Infants born less than 24 months after the preceding
birth are more likely to die in infancy than those infants
born after a greater birth interval (Ghana Statistical
Services and MacroIntemational Inc., 1999). The mother's
body does not have sufficient time to recover after several
short birth intervals so the likelihood of her having an
infant with health issues goes up (Ghana Development
Agenda and Population Growth, 2006). Infants are also
prone to higher mortality rates when born closely to a
sibling as the amount of time a mother will then spend
breastfeeding is likely to be reduced (Ghana Development
Agenda and Population Growth, 2006).
The impact of birth order on infants could be reduced
by increasing the average age at which women give birth to
their first child. Increasing the age and education of the
mother would give first-born children a greater chance of
survival.
Problems created by poor birth spacing are fixable with
increased social education, particularly of females, and
improved usage of contraceptives.


Women and Infant Mortality
Sub-Saharan Africa has a high preponderance of child
marriages (marriage before the age of 18). Ghana is no
exception with between 25.1% and 50% of women married
before the age of 18. In addition to the negative effects
upon the women themselves, infants born to mothers under
age 20 have a 73% higher mortality rate than infants born
to older mothers (Levine et al., 2008).
As discussed above, birth order and spacing have an
enormous impact on an infant's likelihood of survival. The
mother's age is an important factor in making decisions
concerning the number of children or the frequency at
which she desires to have them. Women under the age of
18 feel less able to speak to their husbands about concerns,
including contraception and birth spacing (Levine et al.,
2008). Women who first give birth at a young age are more
apt to have shorter birth intervals between their children
than would an older woman who had given birth for the
first time (Gyimah, 2005).
A number of studies find a pronounced negative
correlation between education attained by the mother and
levels of infant mortality (Ghana Statistical Services and
MacroInternational Inc., 1999; Field and Frey, 2000).
Annually, Ghana's population growth rate is 2.7%; one of
the highest population growth rates in the world (Ghana
Development Agenda and Population Growth, 2006). This
growth can be attributed to high fertility rates combined
with lack of contraceptive usage. Contraceptive usage goes
up by approximately 10% in urban areas and also improves
significantly with the educational level attained by the
mother (Studies in Family Planning, 2005; Gyimah, 2005).
34.2% of women between the ages of 15-29 do not use,
and do not intend to use, any form of contraceptive because
they fear the side effects (Studies in Family Planning,
2005). Contraceptive use and breastfeeding are correlates
of birth intervals; the more an infant is breastfed or a
couple uses contraceptives, the greater the birth interval
will be (Gyimah 2005).

Infrastructure and Foreign Aid
Ghana has been the favored child of the international
community amongst its sub-Saharan African con-
temporaries due to its relative success in economic
development. As of 2007, Ghana has been the recipient of
$1.136 billion (US$) in loans and grants but its external
debt remains high at $3.387 billion. Of these funds, the
World Bank has been the major multilateral contributor
(Goldsmith, 2001). Ghana has received nearly $37 million
($US) per year from 2004 to 2007 from the U.S. Agency
for International Development alone (USAID, 2008). Even


University of Florida I Journal of Undergraduate Research I Volume 10, Issue 4 I Summer 2009








GENEVIEVE HARPER


though these are large sums, Ghana's external debt requires
that money which could otherwise have been spent on
social services is used for debt service. In this manner,
Ghana is "aid dependent"; it could not carry on functioning
in its present manner without external funding and advice
(Goldsmith, 2001). In recognition of the problem that large
amounts of debt create for developing countries, The
International Monetary Fund and World Bank have made
debt relief available for heavily indebted countries, of
which Ghana is one, provided that they meet certain
conditions (International Monetary Fund, 2008).
The Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative should
have freed up resources to spend on health, education and
social services yet this effect is not seen reflected in any
reduction of the rate of infant mortality. Clearly, Ghana
receives substantial amounts of aid, but why is it not
reaching the people who need it the most? Vast disparities
exist between regions and social classes with poor; the
richest 20% have a 46.6% share of the overall consumption
and income in the country (Human Development Report
2007/2008). While Ghana's level of political corruption is
better than much of sub-Saharan Africa, an elite class is
still in place controlling the disbursement of funds. Even
amongst the poor, women residing in rural areas remain the
most disadvantaged group of all with little to no access to
health care, credit or education.
The emergence of cost-effective public health care is
necessary within Ghana. The inadequate health care
infrastructure currently in place means that in 2003 only
6.6% of women were attended during childbirth by a
doctor with the vast majority of these residing in urban
areas (Studies in Family Planning, 2006). There are
approximately 15 physicians for each 100,000 people in
Ghana (Human Development Report 2007/2008).

Conclusion

The lack of a significant reduction of infant mortality
rates in Ghana between 2000 and 2008 is attributable to the
same factors affecting infant mortality in the rest of the
world, yet not enough has been done to combat these issues
in Ghana. Development aid has been disbursed in a manner
that has benefited mostly the urban population centers.
Rural areas are without adequate health care and
educational facilities thereby perpetuating the cycle of
poverty.
This paper finds support for the hypothesis that
increasing education, particularly with women, will lead to
a significant reduction in the rate of infant mortality in
Ghana. Birth spacing, education and age of the mother, can


be positively influenced through the educational and
financial empowerment of women. Social acceptance of
contraceptives must become more widespread.
A qualitative examination of the literature finds that
continued economic development could eventually bring
about a reduction in the infant mortality rate but must be
combined with social modernization in order to be most
effective. The effects of economic development on infant
mortality likely will not be felt for many years; Ghana has
already lost a decade to high rates of infant mortality-it
must not lose a generation.

Works Cited

"At a glance: Ghana." UNICEF. 2008. ghana.html>.
Black, Robert E., Lindsay H. Allen, Zulfiqar A. Bhutta, Laura E. Caulfield,
Mercedes De Onis, Majid Ezzati, Colin Mathers, and Juan Rivera.
"Maternal and child undemutrition: global and regional exposures and
health consequences." The Lancet (2008): 243-60.
"Country Profiles: Ghana." Department for International Development. 11 Apr.
2008. .
"Debt Relief Under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative." International
Monetary Fund. Mar. 2008. /exr/facts/hipc.htm>.
Edmond, Karen M., Charles Zandoh, Maria A. Quigley, Seeba Amenga-Etego,
Seth Owusu-Agyei, and Betty R. Kirkwood. "Delayed Breastfeeding
Initiation Increases Risk of Neonatal Mortality." Pediatrics 117 (2006): 380-
86.
Frey, R Scott, and Carolyn Field. "The determinants of infant mortality in the less
developed countries: A cross-national test of five theories." Social
Indicators Research 52 (2000): 215-26.
Ghana Demographic and Health Survey 1998. Ghana Statistical Services (GSS)
and MacroIntemational Inc (MI). Calverton, Maryland: GSS and MI, 1999.
"Ghana: HIV/AIDS on decline for the first time in 5 years, survey shows." IRIN
humanitarian news and analysis; UN office for the coordination of
humanitarian affairs. 15 Apr. 2005. irinnews.org/report.aspx?reportid 53932>.
"Ghana 2003: Results from the Demographic and Health Survey." Studies in
Family Planning 36 (2005): 158-62.
Ghana's Development Agenda and Population Growth: The Unmet Need for
Family Planning. PublicationNo. National Population Council. 2006.
Gill, Kirrin, Rohini Pande, and Anju Malhotra. "Women deliver for
development." The Lancet (2007): 1347-357.
Goldsmith, Arthur A. "Foreign Aid and Statehood in Africa." International
Organization 55 (2001): 123-48.
Gyimah, Stephen. "Cultural Background and Infant Survival in Ghana." Ethnicity
and Health 11 (2006): 101-20.
Gyimah, Stephen. "The Dynamics of Timing and Spacing of Births in Ghana."
Journal of Comparative Family Studies 36 (2005): 41-60.
Harris, Jonathon M. "Critiques of National Income Accounting and GNP"
Human Well-Being and Economic Goals. Ed. Frank Ackerman, David
Kiron and Neva R. Goodwin. New York: Island P, 1997. 335.
Human Development Report 2007/2008. Rep.No. Development Programme,
United Nations. Washington DC, 2008.
Johnson, Kiersten, Shea Rutstein, and Pav Govindasamy. The Stall in Mortality
Decline in Ghana: Further Analysis of Demographic and Health Surveys
Data. U.S. Agency for International Development. Calverton, Maryland:
ORC Macro, 2005.
Lawn, Joy E., Simon Cousens, and Jelka Zupan. "4 million neonatal deaths:
When? Where? Why?" The Lancet 365 (2005): 891-900.
Levine, Ruth, Cynthia Lloyd, Margaret Greene, and Caren Grown. Girls Count: A
Global Investment and Action Agenda. PublicationNo. Center for Global
Development. Washington DC: The Center for Global Development, 2008.


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INFANT MORTALITY IN GHANA


Nassar, Jamal R., and Richard J. Payne. Politics and Culture in the Developing
World : The Impact of Globalization. New York: Longman, 2007. 109.
Neumayer, Eric. "HIV/AIDS and Cross-National Convergence in Life
Expectancy." Population and Development Review 30 (2004): 727-42.
Pond, Bob, Eddie Addai, and Samuel T. Kwashie. "Stagnation of Ghana's under-5
mortality rate." The Lancet 365 (2005): 1846.
Shen, Ce, and John B. Williamson. "Accounting for differences in cross-national
infant mortality decline among less developed countries: Effects of women's
status, economic dependency and state strength." Social Indicators Research


72(2001): 69-88.
Sibai, Abla. "Mortality certification and cause-of-death reporting in developing
countries." Editorial. Bull World Health Organ vol.82 no.2 Feb. 2004.
"USAID Ghana Mission: Overview of the USAID Mission in Ghana." USAID
from the American people. 2008. .
"The World Factbook: Ghana." Central Intelligence Agency. 24 July 2008.
factbook/geos/gh.html>.


University of Florida I Journal of Undergraduate Research I Volume 10, Issue 4 I Summer 2009







Broadcasting Politics in Chile: A Look at the 1988 Campaigns of

Pinochet and the Plebiscite


Lindsay Hebert


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Florida


This essay focuses on the role of two television ads used in the campaigns in conjunction with a 1988 constitutional referendum in
Chile that sought to end President Augusto Pinochet Ugarte's rule the following year. The fact that the country was slowly moving
toward democracy coupled with Pinochet's increasing unpopularity due to human rights violations, created a heatedly contentious
situation. In an analysis of these two campaign ads, I draw on semiotics to look closely at the signs illuminated in each and argue that
subtle and often hidden meanings are significant and make for a strong advertising strategy. An exploration of these two commercials
is useful in understanding Latin American politics, specifically those of Chile, as well as the broader role of music in political
advertisements.

Introduction


Everyone knows when it's campaign season. Grassy
areas around town transform into campaign sign jungles,
stickers adorn the bumpers of those who are most
passionate, and without fail your favorite television
program is interrupted with politically themed commercial
breaks. Whether they realize it or not, citizens absorb these
political signals and both consciously and subconsciously
process their messages until the day they cast their ballot.
This essay will focus on the role of two television ads
used in the campaigns in conjunction with a 1988
constitutional referendum in Chile that sought to end
President Augusto Pinochet Ugarte's rule the following
year. Many Chileans initially welcomed the new President,
perhaps solely on the basis that he was not Allende-and
someone looking to bring the country out of an economic
slump. Assuredly, inflation declined, small businesses
reopened, and the country was somewhat restored to its
once-healthy state. But the fact that the country was slowly
moving toward democracy, coupled with Pinochet's
increasing unpopularity due to human rights violations,
created a heatedly contentious situation and the referendum
vote ultimately ended his term the next year.
In an analysis of two campaign ads, I will draw upon
Charles Sanders Peirce's ideas about semiotics (see also
Turino 1999) and take a closer look at the signs illuminated
in each. I will argue, based on semiotic analysis, that subtle
and often hidden meanings are significant and make for a
strong advertising strategy. Ideas conveyed less explicitly
typically engage the minds and emotional intelligence of
the audience to a larger degree than would be necessary in
interpreting messages that lack this depth. In interpreting
the ads and drawing connections on their own accord, the
audience becomes invested in such advertisements,
remembers them, identifies with them-and takes these
thoughts with them to the polls. An exploration of these


two commercials will be useful in understanding a bit more
about Latin American politics, specifically those of Chile,
as well as the role of music in political advertisements.

Background Breakdown

Chile had been under the control of Pinochet since the
military coup (led by Pinochet himself) of 1973 overthrew
Salvador Allende. Over the course of his ruling, he helped
Chile overcome some of the economic battles Allende had
been trying to fight for years (Edwards 2008). Confronted
with opposition during his rule, however, a referendum was
scheduled for October 5th, 1988 to decide whether or not
Pinochet's term would be extended another eight years. A
Si vote meant his presidential term would be extended and
a No vote meant that he would remain President for another
year and then another election would be scheduled.
Since 1973, when the military regime under Pinochet
took power, political advertising had been banned. Just
weeks before election day, the No campaign was finally
granted access to television advertising (Rauschenberg &
Mattison 2003:258), dashing onto the screen with "its unity
and a series of upbeat, appealing advertisements that
stressed harmony and joy in a reunited Chile" (Hudson
1994). The No campaign's television spots subtly reminded
viewers of the poverty and oppression average citizens had
suffered under Pinochet's rule, but the campaign at large
was conducted under the premise that positive messages
and a focus on creating a better future would win more
votes.
Likewise, the military government kicked their
campaign into high gear, broadcasting "grim and far less
appealing ads" (Hudson 1994) that awakened the viewers'
memories of life under Allende-the disorder and chaos
that swallowed the nation. Taking an opposite stance, the


University of Florida I Journal of Undergraduate Research I Volume 10, Issue 4 I Summer 2009







LINDSAY HEBERT


Si campaign decided that negative campaigning was in
their best interest, as voters would surely heed warnings
and vote against returning to a pre-1973 Chile.
Knowing the race would be as close as it was, each
side was eventually given equal amounts of airtime on
television. They would not be allowed any official political
advertising outside those spots (Diplomat's Handbook
2008). The scheduled allotment took place in two off-
prime time slots: one before the afternoon news, and the
other before the late-night news (Diplomat's Handbook
2008). Each spot was about 15 minutes long and would
usually end with that campaign's signature commercial, or
"music video" if you will. In this way, the repetitive nature
of this video created what Peirce would refer to as an
indexical sign, a tool that is used to capture someone's
attention by means of blind compulsion (Turino 1999:
229). While viewers were probably not actively processing
the fact that they had already seen this spot, they were
subconsciously digesting something with which they were


already rather familiar.


According


An important component of analyzing
understanding the ways in which the proc
trigger the viewers' emotions. Enculturati
process by which a person learns about
which he or she is surrounded, and cros
acquires principles and behaviors tha
constructed as appropriate or necessary
(Kottak 2006:78). Going a step furt
enculturation adds the complexity of emo
in the development of these principles and
of these ads were created with the national
time in mind and sought to highlight the
within the context of Chile's current
closely at these specific metaphoric re]
implicit messages helps to understand th
peoples' emotions (linked to culture) affect
Additionally, a theory that is widely
but important to reiterate nonetheless, is
from the moment someone is born their
continually being shaped by culture. This i
emotions cannot be hardwired, but rather
which are hardwired are greatly infli
surrounding environment.
The nation was very aware of Pi
Historians today look at him as a powerful
by fear (Lazzara 2001:244). This fear wa
culturally constructed emotion that stirs


those who lived under his rule. Fear that the Chilean people
would have to continue to suppress any opinions they held
contrary to those of Pinochet created a collective structure
of feeling throughout the nation. Thousands of Allende's
supporters had been sent to torture camps throughout the
country in years just prior, and they did not doubt that
Pinochet would reopen them should he feel threatened.
"Whether it is right or wrong, some Chileans began
associating democracy with human rights violations"
(Mayorga 2008, my translation). Indeed, democracy had
become an index of cruelty and hatred as Pinochet's
reputation became tainted with the inhumane treatment of
his country's people. Their emotional responses were based
on culture-specific occurrences that were and still are
achieved through semiotic means and these instinctual
responses are difficult to reverse (Becker 2004).

The No Campaign


The opposition No campaign, comprised of the
Concertaci6n de Partidos por el NO (Coalition of Parties
to Cultural for NO), produced colorful, upbeat programs, urging
people to vote against the extension of the presidential
term. Formed largely by the Christian Democratic party,
the spots lies in the opposition was also made up of members from a total
lucers sought to of 17 parties. Their chant, "Chile, la alegria ya viene"
on is the social ("Chile, happiness is coming") served as the campaign's
the culture by slogan.
s-generationally One of the most valuable strengths of this campaign
it are socially was the fact that so many artists and cultural intellectuals
in that culture were in support of saying goodbye to Pinochet. Innovation
other, emotional and creativity ran rampant, both of which are exemplified
tional processes in their commercials and theme song. Brainstorming
Behavior. Both creative ways to voice themselves, one of the ideas the
sentiment of the Civic Crusade came up with was to hold free rock concerts
ir strong points with bands that had been kept off the airwaves (Diplomat's
status. Looking Handbook 2008). Any 18-30 year olds who wished to
presentations or attend needed to show their voter ID cards for entry. "In
e way in which all, we managed to register 7 million of 8 million potential
their decisions. voters," reminisced Ignacio Walker. "We spread the 'good
accepted today, news' that this plebiscite was a unique chance"
the notion that (Diplomat's Handbook 2008).


ir emotions are
s not to say that
that even those
uenced by the

nochet's power.
I man who ruled
s (and still is) a
in the hearts of


"Chile, la alegria ya viene"

The song begins and ends with the a cappella chant,
"Chile, la alegria ya viene" which gives a distinct
organization to the video. It begins and ends with the same
positive idea. The No campaign made a conscious effort
not to refer to the torture and agony in a graphic way, but
rather to emphasize the happy future that awaited. This is


University of Florida I Journal of Undergraduate Research I Volume 10, Issue 4 I Summer 2009


Emotions Elicited
Confines







BROADCASTING POLITICS IN CHILE


just the beginning of a glimpse into the positive advertising
strategy used by the No campaign.
The first verse opens with a woman dancing on a
bridge. Flashing through scenes in which a plethora of
people ranging in age, class, physical appearance, and style
of dress, the lyrics mention a bit of hardship that the
country has seen under Pinochet. "When are the abuses
enough, it's the time to change" (my translation) is sung as
a seemingly troubled musician sits in the dark with his
guitar. "It's the time to change" (my translation) is marked
by a metaphoric sign in which a man rushes to a door with
what appears to be important paperwork, but someone
changes the "Open" sign to "Closed" (cerrado) before he
can open the door. Peirce would characterize the linguistic
sign as a symbol, and state that it signifies that the store is
closed. Looking further, however, this sign is also linked
indexically to the lyrics. "It's the time to change" the
"closed" society that so many people are living in under the
Pinochet regime. "Closed" can thus signify a multitude of
things simultaneously. Those who belonged to the lower
class felt closed off financially and socially from a society
ruled by a government that was helping the rich become
richer. Further, the man's emotional response in this
situation serves as an index of the co-occurrence of his
unhappiness with his current situation, and also with that of
the current Pinochet situation. Use of an index denotes that
the viewer has to interpret his emotions to understand that
he is upset. Peirce notes that while the function of
linguistic symbols is quite conventional, analyzing icons
and indices requires a bit more emotional intelligence
(Chandler 2006). That is, that utilizing advertising methods
intended to arouse the viewers' emotions leaves more of an
overall impression on them.
The next verse is a bit brighter in terms of lyrical
content, and also in terms of the key change that takes
place musically. An immediate reference is made to the
campaign's symbol, the rainbow. In fact, the icon of the
rainbow above the word "No" makes an appearance no less
than five times throughout this spot in a variety of creative
ways. Pictured going about their everyday lives are a nurse,
a family enjoying a picnic, rancheros (ranchers) riding
horses, dancers, a mother holding her daughter, kids
jumping on their parents' bed, and a group of businessmen
in a meeting. The diversity is abounding, and certainly
intended to capture the audience in a way that allows them
to find someone with whom they can relate.
The lively chorus, "We're going to say no" (my
translation) is enthusiastically sung by a group of college-
aged individuals who have hiked to the top of a mountain.
The gloomy guitarist is now strumming away with a smile
on his face. And as a taxi driver shakes his head no, the


sign resting in his windshield says "Free" (my translation).
Once again, "Free" serves as both a Peircian symbol and an
index. Linguistically, the sign in the windshield signifies
that the cab is vacant. Employing a bit of emotional
intelligence would further lend itself to the notion that
indexically, the taxi driver is "free" from Pinochet's
control. The accompanying lyrics to this visual are "I sing
it without fear" (my translation). He is free to make a
decision and he is not afraid to say "No." This scene may
speak specifically to those who were afraid to speak out
against Pinochet and admit that they were going to vote
against him. After all, this was the campaign's biggest
obstacle.
The diversity seen in this spot is especially noteworthy,
seeing as a multitude of different kinds of people appear
within this two-minute span. Musicians, dancers, a boxer,
kids jumping on a bed, a family having a picnic, clowns, a
cook, a rock band, and a group of men at a business
meeting are just examples of the demographic spread the
No campaign reached.
The third verse is similar to the first in that the lyrics
are not as bright and positive as the second verse.
References like "it's the opportunity to vanquish the
violence with weapons of peace" (my translation), though
positive, are not quite as cheery-sounding as "because the
rainbow is born after the thunderstorm," (my translation) as
found in verse two.
Overall, this was a strong advertisement especially in
the use of icons and indices to play to peoples' emotions.
Whether or not voters consciously made connections
between them or not does not matter, because regardless,
they went to the polls with many subconscious feelings and
influences-which is the point of advertising propaganda.

The Si Campaign

As I discussed earlier, the Si campaign did not argue
for the advantages of the extension, but instead employed a
negative campaign strategy, stating that voting "no" was
equivalent to voting for a return to the chaos that existed
under Allende. In what could be referred to as the "Si
acting as the No," the Si campaign did not find it
advantageous to promote the benefits of extending
Pinochet's power an additional eight years.
Instead of highlighting the benefits of another eight
years under Pinochet, they showed clips of pre-1973 Chile
in their spots of chaotic scenes and people running through
the streets, as a way to illuminate the disorder they thought
a No vote would bring (Lazzara 2001:244). Obviously,
they were playing to voters' fears that voting Pinochet out
of office would find Chile in the same place it was during


University of Florida I Journal of Undergraduate Research I Volume 10, Issue 4 I Summer 2009







LINDSAY HEBERT


Allende's time as President; and that was certainly no place
any Chileans wanted to remember (Lazzara 2001:245).
Much like was seen with the No campaign, but perhaps
for different reasons, specific information about the origin
of the Si campaign's signature anthem is scarce. The names
of prominent contributors like the composer, director,
lyricist, and producer are not readily accessible without
what seems would be extensive research and interviewing
in government buildings in Santiago, Chile's capital.
And though there are not public records detailing
where the money came from to run Pinochet's campaign,
an educated guess may be appropriate. The drop in foreign
aide when Allende was President completely reversed in
1974, as the United States of America dropped $322.8
million dollars in loans and credit in Pinochet's hands.
Each year he was President, the United States
continued to support Chile financially. Since the United
States had a vested interest in keeping Pinochet in power, it
is likely they made a donation to his campaign.

"Un Pais Ganador"

Generally more simplistic in nature than the No spot,
this video immediately gives off a militaristic vibe with the
chosen song. Strong downbeats on the bass drum and
colorful chords amongst the brass add to this effect.
Among the singers are legislative officials, many of whom
are dressed in shades of red, white, and blue like the
Chilean flag. Nationalistic attributes such as these visuals
are indices of governmental law and order, which may
have either negative or positive undertones depending on
the viewer. Beginning with male and female solos, the
lyrics speak of the "unforgettable September" (my
translation) in which Pinochet overthrew Allende and notes
that with it came "a legacy that we promised to defend"
(my translation). These lyrics almost seem to serve as a
slight guilt trip in reminding the voters, 'Remember how
we all came together to overthrow Allende? Let's keep our
promise and stick together.'
The solos that come at the beginning add a feeling of
individualism that may not be quickly recognizable, but
surely serve as what Peirce would call an index of
individualism. The strong sense of community in the No
campaign's video sharply contrasts this notion. And even
as the camera pans to show the choir of singers, many are
standing by themselves, as if they don't know the others
around them. This may inherently speak to the idea of
democracy implying more of a sense of independence and
less collectivism in society.
An instrumental influx of banging cymbals and drums
plays as they show scenes from Allende protests outside La


Moneda (Chilean Government Headquarters). Repeating
the first verse again, this time the picture alludes to a few
examples in which industrialism has helped to strengthen
the economy. Clips of containers being loaded onto ships
in the port city of Valparaiso and shots of the advances of
the logging industry provide good examples of icons.
These icons do not seem to match with the lyrics, however,
in contrast to the No campaign's spot.
The target demographic of this video seems to be
mostly businessmen and women, as everyone is rather
professionally dressed. Also noteworthy difference
between the two videos is the fact that class diversity is not
particularly evident and everyone appears to be from the
upper or middle class in the Si video. An exception to this
comes at the end when a campesino (countryman) is seen
with his son in a field. Perhaps this was done in attempts to
appeal more to people living in small urban settings.
The symbol of the word "Si" written in red, white, and
blue with a star over the 'I' only makes the screen twice
throughout the video. Even though basic symbols such as
these do not tend to arouse subconscious emotions, their
influence in leaving a mark on the viewer's mind cannot be
overlooked. Although the Si campaign lacked substance in
this area, what they did a great job of emphasizing was
individualism. In the fourth verse, the lyrics declare "The
town and you, will make possible the hope today that the
whole country advances for you" (my translation, my
emphasis). Perhaps this served to give the generally more
conservative voters a sense of security that they would
continue to benefit financially, and not have to worry that
their money would be spread to others.
In conclusion, this TV spot was not as strong as the No
campaign's video. Using semiotic analysis, it is evident
that viewers' emotions were not as sought after in this ad.
With a sense that it lacked overall creativity and originality
in the lyrics, this song is less catchy and markedly less
memorable.

The Outcome

Just two months away from voting, the polls showed
many voters were still indecisive (Archer and Costello
1990:53). What little is reported about the voting
demographic of this race shows that the country's poorest
citizens overwhelmingly voted No (Aman and Parker
1991:5). Pinochet supporters were most often from small
cities and rural areas. This may be due to the fact that most
of the prisons and torture camps were located in large
cities, and knowledge of the human rights violations may
not have reached rural areas.
A reported 92% of Chile's voting-age population was


University of Florida I Journal of Undergraduate Research I Volume 10, Issue 4 I Summer 2009








BROADCASTING POLITICS IN CHILE


registered to vote by the announced cut-off date (Hudson
1994). Both the No campaign and the government had
computers to tally the votes, the opposition campaign
ensuring the government was not rigging the election. Per
tradition, military guards took their post at each polling
location (some 22,000 voting tables) and by 9:00 p.m. the
opposition's computers had counted half a million votes -
showing their campaign in the lead (Hudson 1994). The
government continually delayed releasing its tallies, and
before long, the state television channel being used to
cover the election, was switched to a comedy show
(Hudson 1994).
On October 5, 1988, the No campaign triumphed with
55.99% of the votes, against the 44.1% of Si votes.
Statistics show that 90% of registered voters cast ballots, a
record turnout (Diplomat's Handbook 2008). Presidential
as well as legislative elections were held the following
year, handing the Presidency to Patricio Aylwin, a
Christian Democrat who opposed Allende as a candidate
for the presidency (Diplomat's Handbook 2008).

Conclusions

So, would it be a stretch to say that creative advertising
strategy won the election for the No campaign? Sr.
Mayorga credits the videos and superb advertising to the
plebiscite's victory (Mayorga 2008). He says, "The race
was so close and so heated. It was anyone's election, but
the artists on the No side pulled together their best efforts
and took the lead" (Mayorga 2008, my translation).
Not everyone feels this way, though. Some suggest
Pinochet had a lot to lose, coming out of a few dark years
that led to a decrease in his social popularity. People began
to realize that although the economy was strong, Pinochet
was treating hundred of thousands of people in inhumane
ways. But as Rauschenberg and Mattison (2003:258) so
eloquently explain, despite the outcome of this plebiscite


and the fact that he ultimately lost his seat as President of
Chile, Augusto Pinochet's legacy "has proved more
difficult to resolve." His death was celebrated by many,
mourned by others, and not to be forgotten by the nation he
so fearfully ruled for 26 years.
Though it may seem presumptuous to say that the
television spots significantly affected voters' decisions,
assuredly clear is the fact that Peirce's theories about
semiotics hold great merit, especially in understanding how
media affects people. Getting on someone else's cultural
level and viewing the world through their culturally
constructed emotions is a powerful weapon, especially in
designing a political campaign.

Works Cited

Aman, Kenneth, and Cristian Parker. Popular Culture in Chile. Boulder, CO:
Westview Press, 1991.
Archer, David & Patrick Costello. "Breaking the culture of silence." Literacy and
Power: The Latin American Background. London, 1990: 51-64.
Becker, Judith. Deep Listeners. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2004.
"Bolsita de te, spot de la franja del no." 10 Dec 2006. YouTube. 1 Dec 2008
.
"Canci6n del Si." 09 Nov 2007. YouTube. 1 Dec 2008
.
Chandler, Daniel. "Signs." Semiotics for Beginners. 11 Apr 2006. University of
Wales. 1 Dec 2008 /sem02.html>.
"Chile, la alegria ya viene Altaa calidad)." 23 July 2007. YouTube. 1 Dec 2008
.
Edwards, Jorge. "Democratic Culture and Transition in Chile." Post-
Authoritarian Cultures: Spain and Latin America.
Luis Martin-Estudillo & Roberto Ampuero. Nashville: Vanderbilt University
Press, 2008.
Lazzara, Michael J.. "Memory Scripts in the Making: Chile's 9/11 and the
Struggle for Meaning." Contracorriente. 5(2001): 243-252.
Mayorga, Felipe. Personal Communication. 11 June 2008.
Turino, Thomas. Nationalists. Cosmopolitans, and Popular Music in Zimbabwe.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.
"The Rise and Fall of Chilean Democracy." Diplomat's Handbook. 1 Dec 2008
.
Villa Grimaldi Guide (identity unrevealed). Personal Communication. 7 June
2008.


University of Florida I Journal of Undergraduate Research I Volume 10, Issue 4 I Summer 2009
5







Understanding the Reception of Schoenberg's Music From a

Neuroscientist's Perspective


William L. Conte


College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida


When Arnold Schoenberg adopted an atonal compositional style in the early twentieth century he met a series of unprecedented
negative criticism and violent events at premieres of his works. While scholars have attributed the negative reception of Schoenberg's
music to a variety of social reasons, such as the possibility that listeners attended his performances wanting to provoke a controversy,
this article reexamines these events using neuroscience and establishes a difference in perception of tonal and atonal works. I
hypothesize that the resistance to atonal music was due to the audience's predisposition to tonal music and that this predisposition
influenced the expectations of listeners. According to the scientific literature, the pleasure experienced by listening to music is derived
from a positive reinforcement of expectations. Based upon research into song acquisition in birds, there is a critical period during early
childhood where we are able to internalize scale degree statistics without formal education. In western cultures, these internalizations
are governed by tonality. Therefore, the internalized sense of tonality contributed to the harsh reception of Schoenberg's music.


Introduction

As is well known, when Arnold Schoenberg (1874-
1951) gave up the use of traditional harmony in his
compositions in the early twentieth century in favor of
what became known as "atonal" compositions, he
encountered a series of scandalous events at premieres of
his works. Several concerts between 1908 and 1920 had
such unprecedented reactions that included even physical
violence. Although scholars have examined these events
extensively, the scholarship on musical modernism has
typically focused on two approaches: formalist theoretical
analysis or social and political interpretations.' By
reviewing recent neuroscience studies examining the
perception of music, this study explores an alternative
approach to explain the reactions to musical modernism
and to establish a difference in perception of tonal and
atonal pieces. By looking at the basic science and
psychology of music perception, science provides an alter-
native and perhaps informative means of understanding
musical modernism.
The root cause of the aversion to Schoenberg's music is
arguably related to a violation of the audience's implicit
expectations. It has been argued that one of the main


Acknowledgements: Specials thanks to Dr. Silvio dos Santos for his
support and for allowing me to partake in this collaboration. I would also
like to thank my mentor, Dr. Roger Reep, for his continued investment into
my future and success. Special thanks are given to both the University
Scholars program and the HHMI Science for Life program at the
University of Florida for their numerous financial support they have
awarded me during the past few years.
1 David Huron, Sweet Anticipation: Music and the Psychology of
Expectation (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2006), 353.


contributors to our so called "pleasure" in music is derived
from our ability to predict sequences of events that are
about to occur within a musical composition.2 We are
"rewarded" when our predictions are correct. In this sense,
individuals listening experience shape their musical
perception.3 In music of the common practice period in the
western world, these predictions are based on certain
harmonic progressions and cadences. Of course, this
predictability is lost within the framework of atonal music.

The Reception of Atonal Music

The increasing use of dissonance in music at the turn of
the twentieth century posed difficulties for composers
working within the constraints of traditional harmony,
namely composing within an organized key center. After
considering the compositional challenges in this fast
changing environment, particularly the intelligibility of the
new music, Schoenberg pronounced the "emancipation of
dissonance" as a solution. He recounted the moment of
change to atonality in these terms:


Such a change became necessary when there
occurred simultaneously a development which
ended in what I call the emancipation of the
dissonance. The ear had gradually become
acquainted with a great number of dissonances,

2 See Stephen McAdams and Daniel Matzkin, "Similarity, Invariance, and
Musical Variation," Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 930
(2001): 1. Also see Huron, Sweet Anticipation.
Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis et al., "Selective Neurophysiologic
Responses to Music in Instrumentalists with Different Listening
Biographies," Human Brain Mapping 30, no. 1 (2009): 6.


University of Florida I Journal of Undergraduate Research I Volume 10, Issue 4 I Summer 2009








WILLIAM L. CONTE


and so had lost the fear of their 'sense-
interrupting' effect. One no longer expected
preparations of Wagner's dissonances or
resolutions of Strauss' discords; one was not
disturbed by Debussy's non-functional
harmonies, or by the harsh counterpoint of later
composers. This state of affairs led to a freer
use of dissonances comparable to classic
composers' treatment of diminished seventh
chords, which could precede and follow any
other harmony, consonant or dissonant, as if
there were no dissonance at all.4



On another occasion Schoenberg discussed how
dissonant chords were frequently used so liberally
throughout a piece that listeners came not to expect
preparations of dissonances or resolution of dissonant
chords. This happened in part because composers at that
time had been progressively using dissonant chords more
freely, many times without proper preparations and
resolutions. Rather than using "unstable" chords,
Schoenberg wished to fully emancipate the use of
dissonant chords, so that they were no longer considered
unstable within the framework of the piece.5 As
Schoenberg argues "this premise treats dissonances like
consonances and renounces a tonal centre."6 In effect, he
believed that dissonant chords no longer required special
treatments, such as preparation and resolutions.' In the
absence of a tonal center, Schoenberg began to compose
based primarily on motivic organization.
His audiences were not so quick to approve of his new
atonal style, however. Most of the premieres are
remembered for being scandalous, even violent. The
performances of his First String Quartet (Op. 7) in 1907
and his Second String Quartet (Op. 10) in 1908, were met
with intense outrage and protest amongst critics.8 During
the 1908 premiere of his Second String Quartet, shouting
broke out between two critics.9 His performance of Pierrot
lunaire in 1914 was met with similar reception of hissing



4 Arnold Schoenberg, Style and Idea: Selected Writings of Arnold
Schoenberg, ed. Leonard Stein, trans. Leo Black (Berkeley: University of
California Press, 1985), 111.
5Bryan R. Simms, The Atonal Music of Arnold Schoenberg, 1908-1923
(New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 15.
Schoenberg, Style and Idea, 217.
7 Simms, The Atonal Music of Arnold Schoenberg, 15.
8 Avior Byron, "Schoenberg as Performer: An Aesthetics in Practice"
(Ph.D. Diss., University of London, 2007), 28.
Leon Botstein, "Music and Its Public: Habits of Listening and the Crisis of
Musical Modernism in Vienna, 1870-1914" (Ph.D. Diss., Harvard
University, 1985), 1208.


and disruptions.10 People in the audience were booing in
the middle of the performance and whistling; a sign of
harsh disapproval in Europe." Alma Mahler recounts a
concert including pieces by Schoenberg in 1905 where "the
audience kept leaving in droves and slamming the doors
behind them while the music was being played."12
A few first-hand descriptions of several of
Schoenberg's performances give adequate light on how the
audience perceived the music. A review published in the
Viennese paper Musikblatter des Anbruch recounts the
events at an early performance of Kammersymphonie (Op.
9):


After the second orchestral piece a storm of
laughter went through the hall, which was
overpowered by the admirers of this nerve-
racking and provocative music with thunderous
applause . After Schoenberg's Op. 9, his
Kammersymphonie . one could hear the
shrill sound of door keys among the violent
clapping and in the second gallery the first
fight of the evening began . when
Schoenberg knocked on the desk in the middle
of the song and shouted to the public that
anyone disturbing the peace would be removed
by the police, insults, fisticuffs and challenges
broke out again. Herr von Weber shouted
from his box that the whole lot should be
pushed out, and the public answered
immediately that the admirers of this
misguided kind of music should be sent off to
Steinhof [the local lunatic asylum]. It was not
an unusual occurrence when one of the public
with breathless haste and with ape-like agility
climbed over several rows of seats in order to
box the object of his anger on the ears ...
Finally the president of the Academic Society
went onto the conductor's stand and asked that
Mahler's memory should be honoured and his
'Kindertotenlieder' listened to. This request
only led to a general series of insults, which the
President again replied to with ear-boxing. All
the public now stormed on to the platform, in
front of the musicians, who were pale with fear
and trembling, determined to clear the platform
and end the concert. However, it still took




10 Byron, "Schoenberg as Performer," 5.
1 Joan Allen Smith, Schoenberg and His Circle: A Viennese Portrait (New
York: Schirmer, 1986), 72.
12 Alma Mahler, Gustav Mahler (London: John Murrary, 1946), 77.


University of Florida I Journal of Undergraduate Research I Volume 10, Issue 4 I Summer 2009








SCHOENBERG'S MUSIC FROM A NEUROSCIENTIST'S PERSPECTIVE


another half hour, till the last brawlers left the
hall in a fury.13



Similar receptions were met at performances of atonal
works by Alban Berg, who was one of Schoenberg's
pupils. In a performance of Berg's Seven Early Songs, one
of his performers, Marcel Dick, recounts what happened in
the audience to Josef Polnauer, a government official who
was sitting next to Gustav Mahler:


Mahler was very disturbed by the shouting
invectives of a person behind him in the
audience ... so Mahler turned around and said,
"You are not supposed to hiss when I applaud."
To which he answered back quite brazenly, "I
hiss also at your unprintable symphonies!"
Whereupon, Polnauer let it fly -- he gave it to
him -- whereupon, the attacked person brought
out a knife and sliced Polnauer's face open,
and he carried the scar with great pride to the
end of his days."14



Schoenberg's most unpleasant criticisms came from
professional music critics. The early twentieth century was
marked by increasing attendance by the listener without
developed musical understanding. During this time, the
critic became the indispensable guide to the listener.
Through reviews, the critic transposed their own
interpretation and opinion into the minds of the listener.15
These reviews were consistently negative toward
Schoenberg and arguably led to further negative reception
of his music. Critic James Huneker, for instance, recounts
his experience of a performance of Schoenberg's Pierrot
lunaire in 1912:


What did I hear? At first, the sound of delicate
china shivering into a thousand luminous
fragments. In the welter of tonalities that
bruised each other as they passed and repassed,
in the preliminary grip of enharmonics that
almost made the ears bleed, the eyes water, the
scalp to freeze, I could not get a central grip on
myself. It was new music (or new exquisitely

13 Hans Stuckenschmidt, Arnold Schoenberg: His Life, World, and Work,
trans. Humphrey Searle (New York: Schirmer, 1978), 184-87.
14 Smith, Schoenberg and His Circle, 70.
15 Botstein, "Music and Its Public," 1000.


horrible sounds) with a vengeance. The very
ecstasy of the hideous! I say "exquisitely
horrible," for pain can be at once exquisite and
horrible; consider toothache and its first cousin,
neuralagia. And the border-land between pain
and pleasure is a territory hitherto unexplored
by musical composers. Wagner suggests poetic
anguish; Schoenberg not only arouses the
image of anguish, but he brings it home to his
auditory in the most subjective way. You suffer
the anguish with the fictitious character in the
poem. Your nerves -- and remember the
porches of the ears are the gateways to the
brain and ganglionic centres -- are literally
pinched and scraped. 6





These first-hand accounts of several performances of
atonal works depict the unusually violent reactions of the
audience. Significantly, these reactions occurred during a
time where the Viennese enthusiasts wanted new modem
music.17 As Leon Botstein contends, Schoenberg's music
represented a new form of modernism from the one
previously experienced by the Viennese public because it
forced the listener to concentrate on the musical elements
and form.18 But as Alban Berg explains, rather than using
musical materials and forms in traditional ways, such as the
ones used in the music of Mahler and Strauss,
Schoenberg's music forced the listeners to understand the
internal dimensions of musical logic.19
During a time of high emphasis on progression towards
modernism, why would people have such extreme
reactions to Schoenberg's music? Although other
composers, such as Debussy, had used unstable keys and
dissonance, Schoenberg was the first composer to
completely abandon tonality. Although many scholars have
suggested a variety of social reasons for the scandalous
receptions,2 such as the possibility that people went to the
performances wanting to cause disturbance, I suggest that
the negative perceptions may have had to do with the way
our brains perceive music.


16 James Huneker, Ivory, Apes, and Peacocks (New York: Charles
Scribner's Sons, 1915), 93-94.
17 Botstein, "Music and Its Public," 1188.
18 Ibid., 1203.
19 Alban Berg, "Why Is Schoenberg's Music So Difficult to Understand?,"
in Alban Berg, ed. Willi Reich (New York: Harcourt, 1965).
20 Leon Botstein examines in detail the social issues during that time, with
special emphasis on Semitism in Botstein, "Music and Its Public."


University of Florida I Journal of Undergraduate Research I Volume 10, Issue 4 I Summer 2009








WILLIAM L. CONTE


The Development of Tonal Predispositions

Recent developments in the science of neuronal
plasticity might help explain the processes involved in
learning tonality as well as how the brain reacts to changes.
The doctrine of neuronal plasticity has changed con-
siderably since the pioneering days of Santiago Ramon y
Cajal and Camillo Golgi around the turn of the twentieth
century. For most of the twentieth century science has
generally regarded the brain as a fixed entity that cannot
change after early childhood. Only in the past few decades,
in parallel with new technological advances that have
advanced our understanding of the brain, has this paradigm
shifted to the current school of thought that the brain
regularly participates in plastic changes throughout a
person's lifetime. Donald Hebb, one of the first proponents
of the theory of synaptic plasticity as it relates to learning
and memory, famously coined the phrase, "Neurons that
fire together, wire together."21 He contended that an
increase in synaptic efficiency between two different
neurons occurs after repeated and persistent stimulation of
a presynaptic and postsynaptic cell.22 This theory explains
the associative learning that arises when simultaneous
activation of multiple neurons increases synaptic strength.
This strengthening of synaptic connection is a way to
explain a biological theory of how memory can be stored in
the brain through the morphological or chemical mod-
ification of brain tissue as a result of external stimuli.
One of the major factors involved in this paradigm shift
toward synaptic plasticity was the study of birdsong, as it
demonstrates a development similar to the one that occurs
in language acquisition in human infants.23 Since birdsong
is one example of temporally restricted learning, it
provides a model for studying how early experience sculpts
neural and behavior organization.24
Understanding birdsong is important because birds are
not born with a preset repertoire of songs; they must learn
it from other birds. Additionally, some species of birds

21 Donald O. Hebb, The Organization of Behavior: a Neuropsychological
Theory (New York: Wiley, 1949).
22 Richard E. Brown and Peter M. Milner, "The Legacy of Donald O. Hebb:
More Than the Hebb Synapse," Nature Reviews Neuroscience 4, no. 12
(2003).
3Johan J. Bolhuis and Manfred Gahr, "Neural Mechanisms of Birdsong
Memory," Nature Reviews Neuroscience 7, no. 5 (2006). Note that bird
vocalizations can be split into two different types: songs and calls.
Birdcalls are seen in every species of birds, and function mostly as a
means of communication or alarm. Birdsong, however, is not present in all
bird types, and song is longer and more complex than calls. Song serves
an important function in courtship and mating.
24 Kathy W. Nordeen and Ernest J. Nordeen, "Synaptic and Molecular
Mechanisms Regulating Plasticity During Early Learning," Annals of the
New York Academy of Sciences 1016 (2004).


have the ability to change their repertoire throughout their
lives, while other species cannot. The majority of imitative
learning is confined to a small period after birth called the
critical period; any substantial learning outside of this
period is almost impossible. Birdsong learning and
acquisition is of particular interest to scientists because it
provides a good model for the study of vocal learning and
plasticity.25 There are three ways in which molecular
changes can confine learning to the sensitive period and
regulate plasticity: upstream events, synaptic changes, and
downstream events. Upstream events are composed of
circuitry related to learning, such as inhibitory and
excitatory inputs and neuromodulator pathl\ a s Examples
of synaptic changes include modulation of receptors,
intracellular signaling, and trophic factors. Downstream
events are involved in expression of the plasticity cascades,
and include gene expression, synapse formation, and
synapse elimination.26 Although this present article will not
discuss the specific molecular mechanisms behind neuronal
plasticity,27 the findings mentioned above suggest that
there are biological mechanisms in the brain that mediate
neuronal reorganization as a result of learning.
One critical finding from the birdsong research, which
has also been replicated in other species, is that there are
several neurobehavioral stages in learning. Birdsong
learning is divided into several stages of learning and
repetition. Upon hatching, birds enter a stage called
subsong, where the birds first begin to experiment with
sound production. After growing more, the bird enters a
plastic song stage where the first learning and imitation of
song begins to occur. After the plastic stage, the bird enters
a crystallized song stage, where the songs are committed to



25 Heather Williams, "Birdsong and Singing Behavior," Annals of the New
York Academy of Sciences 1016 (2004).
26 Nordeen and Nordeen, "Synaptic and Molecular Mechanisms."
27 For a very good review of the specific mechanisms behind plasticity as
it relates to birdsong, see Bolhuis and Gahr, "Neural Mechanisms of
Birdsong Memory." Specifically, the molecular mechanisms behind
neuronal and synaptic plasticity in general are mediated by the N-methyl-
D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor. For information on the NMDA receptor as it
relates to the plasticity of learning, see Nordeen and Nordeen, "Synaptic
and Molecular Mechanisms." The NMDA receptor's long term potentiation
is mediated by Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaM kinase
II). A detailed review about the role of CaM kinase II as it relates to long
term potentiation is offered by John Lisman, Howard Schulman, and Hollis
Cline, "The Molecular Basis of CaMKII Function in Synaptic and
Behavioural Memory," Nature Reviews Neuroscience 3, no. 3 (2002). See
also Gary A. Wayman et al., "Calmodulin-Kinases: Modulators of
Neuronal Development and Plasticity," Neuron 59, no. 6 (2008). For a
more historical review of CaM kinase II and its implications for learning
and memory, see Takashi Yamauchi, "Neuronal Ca2+/Calmodulin-
Dependent Protein Kinase II Discovery, Progress in a Quarter of a
Century, and Perspective: Implication for Learning and Memory,"
Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin 28, no. 8 (2005).


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SCHOENBERG'S MUSIC FROM A NEUROSCIENTIST'S PERSPECTIVE


memory.28 These stages involve other learning phases. The
bird is able to learn new songs only during a "critical
period," when it must be exposed to songs being produced
by other members. The critical period closes toward the
end of the sensory phase, which is when the bird commits
songs to memory. After the sensory phase, the bird enters a
sensorimotor phase, when the bird engages in practice of
the learned songs. The subsong and plastic stages occur
during the sensorimotor phase. At the end of the
sensorimotor phase, the bird enters a crystallized phase,
where the song is committed to memory and is able to be
reproduced later in life.29
Although humans have a different purpose of learning
music (birdsong has an evolutionary function of courtship
for reproduction), the most important feature of the
previous results suggests that there is indeed a "critical
period" in infancy where we internalize a language
system.30 In most instances, there is a limited period of
time where a person internalizes their main language
system. This is why it is more difficult to learn a second
language during adulthood. A person's first language, that
is the language that they use when they think, is most often
learned during a critical period during early childhood.31
Since musical acquisition has many parallels to language
acquisition,32 I suggest that it is within a critical period that
infants implicitly learn the rules of tonality. This early
auditory exposure creates an inclination of musical
preference.
In the early months of life, infants engage in processing
pitch and temporal patterns.33 Much of this processing
occurs as a result of maternal singing, as mothers often


28 Georg F. Striedter, "The Development of Learning in Songbirds," in
Principles of Brain Evolution (Sunderland: Sinauser Associates, 2005).
29 Ibid.
30 Thomas F. Munte, Eckart Altenmuller, and Lutz Jancke, "The
Musician's Brain as a Model of Neuroplasticity," Nature Reviews
Neuroscience 3, no. 6 (2002).
31 John T. Lamendella, "General Principles of Neurofunctional
Organization and Their Manifestation in Primary and Nonprimary
Language Acquisition," Language Learning 27, no. 1 (1977).
32 It is important to note that the neuroanatomy of music perception is a
highly contested topic in the neuroscience community. Many scientists
consider that music and language processes occur in separate brain
circuits. However, several studies have found that some of the circuits
responsible for musical processing share the same brain regions for
language processing, particularly a region called Broca's area, the
superior temporal sulcus, the superior temporal gyrus (contains the
primary auditory cortex), and the insular cortex: Stefan Koelsch et al.,
"Bach Speaks: A Cortical 'Language-Network' Serves the Processing of
Music," Neurolmage 17, no. 2 (2002). For an overview of the issues
involved in the neuroanatomy of musical perception, see Isabelle Peretz,
"The Nature of Music from a Biological Perspective," Cognition 100, no. 1
o2006).
3Sandra E. Trehub, "Musical Predispositions in Infancy," Annals of the
New York Academy of Sciences 930, no. 1 (2001): 1.


sing common lullabies to their infants. In western cultures,
these lullabies are usually governed by a tonal language.
The act of the infant processing these lullabies on multiple
occasions ("cells that fire together wire together")
predisposes them to a particular musical style.34 Further
early exposure to specific musical styles may also
contribute to an individual's predisposition toward a
musical preference. Musically inexperienced learners are
constantly exposed to music in everyday life that allows
them to implicitly learn certain regularities. This
knowledge consists of the functions of tones and chords
within a key and its relation to other keys. These
internalized "rules" further influence future musical
memory and musical expectancies.35 Preliminary evidence
shows that this also occurs cross-culturally, where
members of a particular culture internalize their own
culture's set of rules, regardless of whether or not it is
governed by western tonality.36 Musical styles are very
diverse across cultures, but all cultures share the phe-
nomenon of organizing music into a system of probability
relationships.37



Musical Expectation in the Brain

Several scholars have demonstrated the relationship
between learned grammatical and syntactical elements in
music and their role in the listening process. While using
Gestalt theory, musicologist Leonard Meyer describes the
importance of expectation to the listener's experience of
music. He argues that the emotional content of music arises
through the composer's ability to "play" with our
expectations.38 Psychologist Carol Krumhansl suggests the
theory that tonality may be viewed as a set of statistically
learned schemas arising from sustained exposure to the
music of some culture.39 Krumhansl suggests zeroth-order
probabilities (individual scale tones) are internalized by
listeners. David Huron further suggests that in addition to




34 Ibid.: 7.
35 Barbara Tillman, Jamshed J. Bharucha, and Emmanuel Bigand,
"Implicit Learning of Tonality: A Self-Organizing Approach.," Psychological
Review 107, no. 4 (2000): 887. See also Lauren Stewart and Vincent
Walsh, "Infant Learning: Music and the Baby Brain," Current Biology 15,
no. 21 (2005). For a good review about musical predispositions see also
Peretz, "The Nature of Music."
36 Huron, Sweet Anticipation, 174.
37 Leonard B. Meyer, Emotion and Meaning in Music (Chicago: University
of Chicago Press, 1956), 63.
38 Ibid.
39 Huron, Sweet Anticipation, 172.


University of Florida I Journal of Undergraduate Research I Volume 10, Issue 4 I Summer 2009








WILLIAM L. CONTE


zeroth-order probabilities, there are higher-order prob-
abilities (succession of tones) that are also internalized.40
David Huron delves into the emotional experiences, or
what he calls qualiaa" of different tones. By qualia, he
refers to specific subjective psychological feelings that
particular tones evoke. For example, subjects often give the
following descriptions for the dominant tone within a
diatonic scale: strong, muscular, balance, possibility, and
pleasant. For the lowered supertonic tone, the following
descriptions are commonly evoked: surprise, abruptness,
and pause.41 Most of these qualia relate to the amount of
consonance or dissonance in a given chord. However,
while musical consonance or dissonance is culturally
determined, sensory consonance or dissonance is culturally
invariant and independent of musical training.42 For
example, a minor 2nd is highly dissonant in isolation.
Since dissonance is generally perceived as "harsh"
sounding, it is easy to attach a negative connotation to an
isolated minor 2nd. But within a contextual framework,
such as a large musical piece, a minor 2nd may sound
beautiful. Inside a contextual framework, however, the
delineation of consonance/dissonance depends on musical
training.43 Interestingly, it has been shown that infants
prefer to listen to consonance over dissonance.44
David Huron also argues that learning is a strict
biological process. Whether a behavior is learned or innate
depends on whether or not the behavior promotes the
adaptive fitness of an organism in its environment.45
Expectations in music are learned from previous musical
exposure; they are derived from past experience. The
coding of past experiences is referred to as memory, so
expectations are related to memory. Although memory
seems to function as an aesthetical process for us to enjoy
our past successes, from a biological standpoint, memory
exists only as a means to repeat our success and to avoid
future failures.46 From an evolutionary perspective,
memory serves as a means for determining whether or not

40 Ibid.
41 Ibid., 145.
42 EW Burns and WD Ward, "Intervals, Scales, and Tuning," in The
Psychology of Music, ed. Diana Deutsch (New York: Academic, 1982);
JW Butler and PG Daston, "Musical Consonance as Musical Preference:
A Cross Cultural Study," Journal of Experimental Psychology 79 (1968);
Yonatan I. Fishman et al., "Consonance and Dissonance of Musical
Chords: Neural Correlates in Auditory Cortex of Monkeys and Humans,"
Journal of Neurophysiology 86, no. 6 (2001): 1.
43 Yonatan I. Fishman et al., "Consonance and Dissonance of Musical
Chords: Neural Correlates in Auditory Cortex of Monkeys and Humans,"
Journal of Neurophysiology 86, no. 6 (2001).
44 Laurel J. Trainor and Becky M. Heinmiller, "The Development of
Evaluative Responses to Music: Infants Prefer to Listen to Consonance
over Dissonance," Infant Behavior and Development 21, no. 1 (1998).
45 Huron, Sweet Anticipation, 59-64.
46 Ibid., 219.


a particular stimulus is a danger to the organism. By
anticipating future events, organisms can take steps to
avoid the possibility of a negative outcome. If we cannot
avoid a negative outcome, expectation allows us to prepare
ourselves by adopting a certain state of arousal.47 When a
listener's prediction is confirmed to be correct, their
prediction is positively reinforced. Tension in music is
created by prolonging the positive reinforcement.48
Since pleasure in music is derived from the positive
reinforcement of successful predictions, then it is quite
possible that the aversion to atonal music was due to a
violation of predictions. As mentioned previously, the
prediction effect is dependent on the listener's musical
experience. In 1908, everyone was still operating within a
tonal framework. It is therefore not surprising that pitch
predictions would fail if a listener applied a key-related
schema to the listening experience of atonal music.
Expectations require instinctive mental responses; it is not
enough to consciously know that a particular chord will
suggest a certain cadence.49 Rather, in order to be effective,
this must occur subconsciously without relying on any
formal music theory education.
Around 1920, Schoenberg devised his compositional
style of twelve-tone technique. This serial method of
composition used all twelve notes of the chromatic scale
equally within a given musical piece. Each piece used a set
of different series, which dictated the order in which the
tones appear so no tones would be repeated before the
entire set is presented.50 One of his reasons for developing
the twelve tone method was to avoid tone rows that might
suggest a tonal center. An often quoted passage by
Schoenberg describes his logic behind developing twelve-
tone compositions:

I have stated in my Harmonielehre that the
emphasis given to a tone by a premature
repetition is capable of heightening it to the
rank of a tonic. But the regular application of a
set of twelve tones emphasizes all the other
tones in the same manner, thus depriving one
single tone of the privilege of supremacy. It
seemed in the first stages immensely important
to avoid a similarity with tonality.51


47 Ibid., 109.
48 Ibid., 305.
49 Meyer, Emotion and Meaning in Music, 61.
50 Carol L. Krumhansl, Cognitive Foundations of Musical Pitch (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1990), 241. For detailed information on
Schoenberg's twelve-tone method see Ethan Haimo, Schoenberg's Serial
Odyssey: The Evolution of His Twelve-Tone Method, 1914-1928 (Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1990).
51 Schoenberg, Style and Idea, 246.


University of Florida I Journal of Undergraduate Research I Volume 10, Issue 4 I Summer 2009







SCHOENBERG'S MUSIC FROM A NEUROSCIENTIST'S PERSPECTIVE


This quote suggests that Schoenberg was well aware
that his audiences were trying to understand his music
based on previous tonal experiences and that he actively
sought to minimize tonal implications with his tone rows.
David Huron conducted a study comparing random twelve-
tone rows to twelve-tone rows composed by Schoenberg.
His results showed that Schoenberg's tone rows had
significantly lower tonal concentrations than random tone
rows. Since the random tone rows tended to evoke a sense
of a tonal area, these findings further show that Schoenberg
sought to purposely avoid people's natural tendency to
attach a key center to his musical work.52
In light of the above, Schoenberg's music presents a
dichotomy between sensory and culturally accepted
dissonances. Although it may not be fair to call
Schoenberg's music "ugly" from an aesthetic standpoint,
one may evoke qualia to describe the music, especially
when expectations are based on a tonal framework. The
audiences at the premieres would have had all their
predictions betrayed, which in essence would be contrary
to the positive feedback they had been experiencing
throughout their lives. Listening within the framework of
tonality would evoke a sense of confusion and discomfort,
even if these feelings were misattributed. No successful
prediction effect is possible without accurate expectations.
Indeed, expectancies generated by a harmonic context
reflect the innate or learned mental representation of
tonality. Further, the harmonic context of a chord sequence
primes the processing of chords related to the context and
induces expectations by activating tonal representations in
the mind of the listener.53
I am not suggesting that it is impossible to enjoy atonal
music. But I believe it is impossible to enjoy it unless one
internalizes a specific atonal schema that allows them to
predict patterns. A study by Krumhansl et al. confirms this
claim.54 This study, which addressed the perception of
atonal pitch sequences on groups of people experimentally,
found that listeners were divided into two groups. One of
the groups heard the sequence based upon classic tonal
schema. However, a second group had internalized the
atonal schema and used this schema to reinforce their
expectation effects. The members of this group ended up
being more musically trained than the other group.55 In


52 Huron, Sweet Anticipation, 342.
53 Sakari Leino et al., "Representation of Harmony Rules in the Human
Brain: Further Evidence from Event-Related Potentials," Brain Research
1142 (2007).
54 Krumhansl, Cognitive Foundations of Musical Pitch.
55 Huron, Sweet Anticipation, 348; Krumhansl, Cognitive Foundations of
Musical Pitch.


essence, this group had engaged in neural plasticity
throughout their musical training.
Schoenberg's writings hint that he may have anticipated
the hallmarks of neural plasticity. In 1918, Schoenberg
conducted ten open rehearsals of his Chamber Symphony,
Op. 9. In order to increase understanding of the music,
these rehearsals created a context for which the audience
could gradually become familiar with the music (or
"internalize" it as I previously discussed). During each
rehearsal, he would only have a few voices play first, and
then would gradually add more voices together; then he
would focus on individual phrases. Finally, he would
rehearse the final piece as a whole uninterrupted.56 As the
announcement brochure described,


Rather than giving a single performance,
Arnold Schoenberg plans to hold a series often
open rehearsals. In the final rehearsal, the work
will be played in its entirety at least once
without interruption. In this way the listener is
offered the opportunity to hear the work often
enough to grasp it in detail as well as in its
entirety. It will also be of interest to the
audience, and especially to musicians, to be
able to follow the performance preparation of
such a difficult work from the very
beginning.57


The results were apparently a success. The organizer,
Erwin Ratz, wrote that "the effect was truly as I expected.
Even the people who at first couldn't get anything out of it
said after three or four rehearsals, 'That sounds like
Mozart.'"58
Still frustrated with the opposition he was receiving at
premieres, Schoenberg and his pupils later organized the
Society for Private Musical Performances in 1918. This
society was created in order to perform new twelve-tone
works in a highly controlled environment. In the
prospectus for the society, Alban Berg writes that "the
attitude of the public toward modem music is affected to an
immense degree by the circumstance that the impression it
receives from that music is inevitably one of obscurity."59
The prospectus lays down three principles that are
necessary for someone to understand new music, which
are:

56 Smith, Schoenberg and His Circle, 73-75.
57 Ibid., 74.
58 Ibid., 75.
59 Ibid., 245.


University of Florida I Journal of Undergraduate Research I Volume 10, Issue 4 I Summer 2009








WILLIAM L. CONTE


Clear, well-rehearsed performances.
Frequent repetitions.
The performances must be removed from
the corrupting influence of publicity; that
is, they must not be directed toward the
winning of competitions and must be
unaccompanied by applause, or
demonstrations of disapproval. 60


These principles are in line with the requirements for
behavioral neural plasticity to work. For the first time,
Schoenberg began to perform his works in front of
audiences that did not riot.

Discussion

The findings of this article have many implications for
both the fields of musicology and neuroscience. From a
scientific standpoint, the negative receptions of atonal
works provide an example for the study behind a complex
behavior. Although music clearly evokes various emotions,
the evolutionary and functional reasons are still unknown.
With all the technical advances involved in studying the
brain, the science behind music perception still eludes
scientists. As neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin eloquently
puts it, "many people who love music profess to know
nothing about it. I've found that many of my colleagues
who study difficult, intricate topics such as neurochemistry
or psychopharmacology feel unprepared to deal with
research in the neuroscience of music. And who can blame
them?"61
Part of the reason why we don't know more about the
science of music relates to its inherent complexity. Music
perception involves a complex interaction of many regions
of the brain. Studies have come far in attempting to study
the functional neuroanatomy behind music perception.
However, most neuroanatomical studies have used simple
isolated musical passages or chords. Once complex musical
works are considered, it is difficult to remove subject bias
or prejudice, and it is difficult to attribute a certain
response to a particular reason. It is not obvious how the
complexity of music translates to brain organization, and it
is also unlikely that there is a single region that processes
all aspects of music. Studies of patients with brain damage
that lead to musical impairment but leave other functions
intact are extremely informative, but patients with these


60 Ibid.
61 Daniel J. Levitin, This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human
Obsession (New York: Dutton Adult, 2006), 9.


deficits are relatively rare. Since music processing involves
complex cognitive functions, it is also difficult to study the
science of music in most other species.
Thus, the complexity of both music and the brain
requires the use of interdisciplinary methods. The
receptions of Schoenberg's music reveal important
information about how the brain organizes tonality based
upon expectation. In this case, one of the main contributing
factors was the deviation from the listener's subconscious
musical expectations, which were implicitly developed
from a young age. From a musicological perspective, this
study provided an alternative explanation for the reactions
to atonal works. Perhaps the true reasons behind the
controversial receptions were multifaceted, but few people
have attempted to explain the receptions from a scientific
perspective. The solution to understanding this historical
problem comes from a systematic approach using musical-
historical and scientific methods.

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University of Florida I Journal of Undergraduate Research I Volume 10, Issue 4 | Summer 2009









SCHOENBERG'S MUSIC FROM A NEUROSCIENTIST'S PERSPECTIVE


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University of Florida I Journal of Undergraduate Research I Volume 10, Issue 4 | Summer 2009




Art as History and Epic: Re-Examining Hale Woodruff’s Talladega College Murals
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Title: Art as History and Epic: Re-Examining Hale Woodruff’s Talladega College Murals
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Abstract: In the summer of 1938, Buell Gallagher, President of Talladega College in Alabama, invited well-known artist and educator Hale Aspacio Woodruff to serve as a visiting professor of art history at the southern black college. While at Talladega, Woodruff was asked to paint a mural for the newly constructed William Savery Library. The murals were to commemorate the building of the new library and showcase Talladega’s dynamic history and its importance to African-Americans. According to an interview with Woodruff conducted by Albert Murray in 1968, Gallagher wanted a mural that would represent the historical event that ultimately led to the establishment of black southern colleges like Talladega—the mutiny aboard the Amistad.
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Art as History and Epic: Re-Examining Hale Woodruff's

Talladega College Murals


College of Fine Arts, University of Florida


In the summer of 1938, Buell Gallagher, President of
Talladega College in Alabama, invited well-known artist
and educator Hale Aspacio Woodruff to serve as a visiting
professor of art history at the southern black college. While
at Talladega, Woodruff was asked to paint a mural for the
newly constructed William Savery Library. The murals
were to commemorate the building of the new library and
showcase Talladega's dynamic history and its importance
to African-Americans. According to an interview with
Woodruff conducted by Albert Murray in 1968, Gallagher
wanted a mural that would represent the historical event
that ultimately led to the establishment of black southern
colleges like Talladega-the mutiny aboard the Amistad.'
In the spring of 1938, Woodruff began work on the
mural while living and teaching at Spellman College in
Atlanta. His work resulted in two related sets of images:
one on the history of the College itself, and the other
recounting what has come to be known as the Amistad
incident (fig. 1). Through this mural, Woodruff
successfully visualized the history of Talladega, the
American Missionary Association, and most notably,
African-Americans. By utilizing the Amistad incident as a
metaphor for the state of contemporary southern racism,
Woodruff used the murals as an opportunity to address
concerns of its to address his own concerns as well as those
of his viewers. Existing literature on Woodruffs murals
recognizes that they addressed themes of Africanisms,
slavery, colonialism, and religious conversion. However,
through the study of archival materials and an in-depth
analysis of the murals themselves, it is clear that
Woodruff's achievement was still more subtle and
complex, and that his murals addressed two other concerns:
challenging the demoralizing perception that African
Americans had passively accepted slavery; and responding
to contemporary outrage over a veritable epidemic of
lynchings that persisted through the 1930s. Thus, I argue
that Woodruff went beyond the mandate of providing an
historical account of Talladega College and the Amistad
incident, to produce a powerful visual intervention in the
contemporary racial and political landscape.


1 Interview with the artist conducted by Albert Murray, "Oral History: Interview
With Hale Woodruff' Archives ofAmerican Art, 1968.


Figure 1: Hale Woodruff, The Amistad Murals in the Savery Library at
Talladega College, 1938-1939

Born in Cairo, Illinois in 1900, Hale Aspacio Woodruff
began to develop his art as a young child. In the early
1920s, Woodruff attended the John Herron School of Art in
Indianapolis where he studied landscape painting.
Woodruff also studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and
Harvard University. Although he resisted moving to New
York like many of his fellow artists had, Woodruff did so
in 1926 and entered and won the Harmon Foundation's
first competition. The bronze medal awarded him one
hundred dollars and sponsorship for study in Paris.2 These
funds, along with contributions from friends and family,
allowed Woodruff to spend four years in Paris studying at
the Academie Moderne (in the atelier of Henry Ossawa
Tanner in 1927) and the Acaedemie Scandinave.3
Upon his return to the United States in 1931, Woodruff
felt the aftershock of the stock market crash of 1929 and
suffered the effects artists living in the late twenties bitterly
struggled with. African Americans were among the many
visual artists working during the 1930s who became part of
the intense ideological struggle provoked by the


2 Gary A. Reynolds and Beryl J. Wright, Against the Odds: African-American
Artists and the Harmon Foundation (Newark: The Newark Museum, 1989), 32.
3 Hale 11 50 Years of Hs Art (New York: The Studio Museum in Harlem,
1979), 74.


University of Florida I Journal of Undergraduate Research I Volume 10, Issue 4 I Summer 2009


Amina Naseer





AMINA NASEER


Depression. Artists like Woodruff had to focus on the
reality of survival over practicing their art. In the wake of
the stock market crash, President Franklin Delano
Roosevelt enacted the Works Progress Administration
(WPA) as a part of his New Deal domestic reform program
to provide work to millions of Americans. Under the
Works Progress Administration, the Federal Arts Project
was a relief program designed to employ artists who could
use their talents to raise morale by bringing art into public
places. Murals were an integral part of the Federal Arts
Project for they allowed ordinary citizens to see American
art that reflected nationalist ideals and values in public
spaces like libraries, schools, and post offices. One of the
most important artists to appreciate the opportunity to
reach general audiences with these realistic murals was
Woodruff. However, according to M. Akua McDaniel, the
few WPA programs for artists on both the state and local
levels could not totally alleviate their impoverishment and
many had to look for teaching jobs to supplement their
incomes.4
Fortunately at this time, Woodruff received a job offer
from Atlanta University's President, Dr. John Hope. In the
fall of 1931, Woodruff was hired to build a fine arts
department in the Atlanta University Center. Along with
developing the art program, Woodruff taught art classes at
the university and his students assisted him in his various
FAP projects in the Atlanta area. His first mural, The
Negro in Modern American Life, installed at David T.
Howard Junior High School during 1933-34, was designed
to encourage students at the junior high school during their
studies. The four-part mural visualized themes such as
music, art, agriculture and literature, establishing his
interest in using murals to encourage African-American
students to defy stereotypes with a solid education.
With the Negro in Modern American Life, Woodruff
realized that "his murals needed improvement if he was
ever going to 'paint great significant murals"', At this time
he applied for and received a fellowship from Columbia
University's International Institute of Teachers College to
serve as an apprentice to Diego Rivera in Mexico during
the summer of 1936.6 Rivera's revolutionary art resonated
with American artists during the 1930s for they were able
to relate Rivera's political themes with American art that
was developing amidst harsh societal changes. Under
Rivera, Woodruff "learned a little about fresco


painting"--how to prepare a wall, grind colors, etc.-but
also was inspired to pursue art as a tool for social action.
Woodruffs fellowship provided him more knowledge
than just the tedium of mural painting, however. Woodruff
and Rivera shared a similar history and Rivera's influence
on Woodruff is better measured by his encouragement
towards Woodruff to utilize his increasing social
consciousness as the subject for his works. Through this
experience, Woodruff was able to study the political nature
and historical significance of mural art as a post-
revolutionary movement. Woodruff articulated his debt to
Rivera in his interview with Murray, saying:

I'd gone through art school, then the sort
of structural Cubist concept in Europe, and
down there went into a social conscious form
of painting. This was pursued further by my
going to Mexico and working as an apprentice
of Diego Rivera, in 1936. He was a social
conscious painter... So you see I've been
around in different places, all of which have
left a chain of various styles in my work. But I
somehow always come back to the so-called
black image, however I had tried to portray it.8

Amalia Amaki argues, "The experience enhanced
[Woodruffs] own sensitivity to the implications of the
southeastern region in the United States-an important
point of origin for many African-Americans."' Woodruff
was sensitive to the poor living conditions of rural
Southerners and the negative impact of Jim Crow laws and
racial segregation. He translated these sensitivities into
paintings, prints, and drawings that influenced many of his
students in Atlanta.
Woodruffs experience with Rivera proved to be
invaluable in 1939 when he was commissioned to paint the
Talladega murals the new Savery Library. The works were
commissioned in the one-hundredth year of the Amistad
incident as a tribute to the American Missionary
Association for assisting a group of African captives who
revolted against their captors and commandeered the slave
ship Amistad. The theme commemorates the violent
shipboard resistance of a group of West Africans from
Sierra Leone, the Mende, to forced enslavement at the
hands of Spanish colonialists, and their subsequent
juridical resistance after being brought to the United States


4 M. Akua McDaniel, "Re-Examining Hale Woodruff s Talladega College and
Atlanta Murals" in Hale W Nancy Elizabeth Prophet, and the Academy
(Atlanta and Seattle: Spelman College Museum of Fine Art in association with
University of Washington Press), 77.
5 McDaniel, 78.
6Ibid.


7 Murray Interview, 1968.
'Ibid.
9Amalia Amaki, "Hale Woodruff in Altanta: Art, Academics, Activism and
Africa" in Hale I :y Elizabeth Prophet, and the Academy (Atlanta
and Seattle: Spelman College Museum of Fine Art in association with University
of Washington Press, 2007), 30.


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HALE WOODRUFF'S TALLADEGA COLLEGE MURALS


in 1839. Following their widely publicized trial, the Mende
captives were repatriated to West Africa in 1842. The
mural pays tribute to the men who escaped the horrors of
slavery and honors those who defended them (including
former US President John Quincy Adams) while on trial in
New Haven, Connecticut. Woodruff captures the highlights
of these events in three separate panels on the west wall of
the Savery Library lobby.
In 1839, some forty Mende Africans were kidnapped
and taken to Havana on a Portuguese slave ship to be sold.
While they were transported onto a Spanish carrier,
ironically dubbed El Amistad (friendship), the Mende
mutinied against their captors (fig.2). Led by their chief
and captain, Cinque, the Mende ordered the Spanish to turn
the ship back toward Africa. According to Alvia Wardlaw,
the Spanish obeyed their orders-during the daylight
hours. Through the night, they steered the ship northwards
across the Atlantic along the Eastern seaboard of the
United States and eventually docked in New Haven,
Connecticut. The battle between the Mende and the
Spaniards continued in the courtroom as the slaves and
their captors went to trial for over two years in the
Connecticut Supreme Court (fig. 3). Then Attorney John
Qunicy Adams defended the Mende's rights to freedom
while the Spaniards accused them with murder and mutiny.
Adams' emphasis on the fact that the United States
ultimately had no jurisdiction in the matter in the first place
helped the Mende win their case, and also earned the
Amistad incident recognition as one of the first human
rights trials in America.
Abolitionists helped raise funds for the Mende to return
to Sierra Leone in November 1841 (fig. 4) and many
whites traveled with them in order to establish a Mende
mission in Africa (some of the West Africans had
converted to Christianity during their stay in New Haven).
Through this initiative, the American Missionary
Association was founded. The association is still in
existence today and is credited with the founding of many
black colleges in the south, including Talladega.10
With this commission, it became Woodruff's
responsibility to fully acquaint himself with the events and
the people involved with the incident. He traveled to New
Haven to study a series of drawings in the collection of the
New Haven Historical Society which included: actual
depictions of the vessel the Amistad, representations of
costumes and weapons, and architecture of the period.
Also, Woodruff extensively studied over thirty-two pencil
drawings of the African captives, done by William
Townsend who worked as a sketch artist during the trial, in
the possession of the Yale University Library. These


10 Alvia Wardlaw, "A Spiritual Libation" in Black Arts Ancestral Legacy (New
York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1990), 66.


served Woodruff in his effort to establish a foundation of
historical accuracy for his murals, which as Alvia Wardlaw
argues, bear clear connections to the Townsend
likenesses."
Despite his research and attention to detail, Woodruff
took some liberties, for instance, including his own self-
portrait as a figure sitting amidst the captives. By
deliberately placing himself in this pivotal chapter of
African-American history, Woodruff implied continuity
between the present and such dramatic moments in the
history of the African-American battle for freedom in the
United States. Through this gesture, Woodruff insists that
his viewers need to embrace emotionally the pain and
struggle associated with slavery. In doing so, Woodruff
hoped that his viewers would celebrate the Mende's
courage and perseverance and try to emulate those traits in
their daily lives.
Yet, beyond historical accuracy, Woodruff also shaped
his mural series to instill young black students of Talladega
College with an understanding of the historical legacy of
slavery. He wanted to encourage students at Talladega, and
the students he taught in Atlanta, to resist contemporary
challenges to black enfranchisement. Amaki explains, "He
pushed the boundaries of traditional teaching by
challenging students to consider art as a tactical conduit of
ancestral legacy and a strategic impetus for social
change."1


Figure 2: Hale Woodruff, Panel I: The Mutiny, Savery Library at Talladega
College, 1938-1939


1 Wardlaw, 67.
12 Amaki, 29


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AMINA NASEER


Figure 3: Hale Woodruff, Panel II: The Trial, Savery Library at Talladega
College, 1938-1939


Figure 4: Hale Woodruff, Panel III: The Return, Savery Library at Talladega
College, 1938-1939

Just as the slaves aboard the Amistad freed themselves
from their bondage, Woodruff hoped that blacks in 1930s
America would fight for their basic human rights. If John
Adams and other fore-fathers could see the importance of
freeing people who were controlled against their will, then
why couldn't contemporary politicians lift the
discriminatory, disheartening restrictions placed on African
Americans in the South and elsewhere?
Woodruffs figurative style of the 1930s was bold and
muscular. The curvilinear rhythms of the murals are
reminiscent of Rivera, as are the bold uses of color and
vegetation in the work. The earthiness of the colors in the
mutiny panel is suggestive of the natural tones of Africa, as
well as the wood tones of much of the continent's art. By
referencing Africa through the wood tones of the boat, the
dark skin of the Mende against the pale skin of the
Spaniards, and the brute strength of the men, Woodruff is
linking contemporary African-Americans to the 1838
Mende. Rather than suggesting that African-Americans
passively accepted slavery, Woodruff is utilizing aspects of
African-American heritage to encourage students at
Talladega to resist victimization and discrimination. In
choosing the library as the location for the murals,
Woodruff hoped that the information which served as the
murals' subject matter would be instilled in the students'


minds and serve as a frame of reference for their resistance
to negative discriminatory practices in the South. He is
warning students that history may soon repeat itself and
without strength, courage, and a strong leader like Cinque,
they would become slaves themselves-restricted to the
bondage associated with segregation and lynchings.
While Woodruff may be best known for his Amistad
murals, the artist also produced at this time additional
works commenting on Negro life in the South. These
works, along with an understanding of Woodruff s
commitment to black history and also to art as a tool for
political action, help elucidate the ways in which he used
the historical subject of the Amistad to address
contemporary concerns.
Southern lynchings of blacks stirred Woodruffs
conscience deeply, and inspired him to design a series of
block prints that were just as impressive and poignant as
his murals (yet in a much more harsh and scathing
manner). Woodruffs linocut images document shack
homes, black churches, outhouses, chain gangs and most
notably, lynchings. Woodruff was one of thirty-seven
artists to display in the exhibit, An Art Commentary on
Lynching held at the Arthur Newton Galleries in New York
in 1935. The exhibition organizers hoped that visual art
could play a significant role in opposing lynching by
increasing public awareness and moving viewers toward
support for proposed legislation to illegalize lynching.
Woodruffs prints combine references to black
victimization and Christian redemption (both of these
themes are traced in the Amistad murals).13
In the linocut Giddup!, c. 1935 (fig. 5), the victim is
clothed and strong in the face of his white attackers.
Woodruff delineates a cross on his chest-a sign that his
faith would sustain his dignity. Langa asserts, "Woodruff s
depiction of this figure powerfully communicated his
desire to preserve the dignity of his subject. His
iconographic choices also implied that black men
functioned as morally innocent scapegoats in white men's
violent efforts to enforce their social control."14 This
argument illustrates how lynching violence was a way for
white Americans to maintain solidarity across divisions of
national origin and class. The Spaniards use a similar mob
mentality of physical violence to exert control over the
Mende.




13 Helen Langa, "Two Antilynching Art Exhibitions: Politicized Viewpoints,
Racial Perspectives, Gendered Constraints," American Art vol. 13, no. 1
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press & The Smithsonian American Art
Museum, 1999), 1-2.
14 Langa, 29.


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HALE WOODRUFF'S TALLADEGA COLLEGE MURALS


Figure 5: Hale Woodruff, Giddupi, 1935. From the Selectionsfrom the Atlanta
Period 1931-1936, printed by Robert Blackburn in 1996, linocut on chine-colle

Just as in Giddup!, moral strength is visualized in the
panel about the trial of the Mende-the victims, especially
their leader captain Cinque, stand strong and poised in the
face of their antagonists. Before living in New Haven, the
Mende were characterized by the brute strength of their
semi-nude muscular bodies, but after their conversion to
Christianity the Mende were Westernized and their
strength now existed within their redeemed Christian souls.
When Woodruff depicts the revolt, he takes advantage of
the maritime iconography of taught and coiled ropes to
evoke contemporary concerns about lynching which were
so often expressed through similar forms (fig. 6). And
when depicting the return of the Mende, Woodruff is sure
to include images of the bible as a symbol of hope and
redemption (fig. 7). The use of Christian iconography also
serves as a visualization of the missionary work of the
abolitionists who would later form the American
Missionary Association.
Such ropes and Christian references appear, for
instance, in By Parties Unknown, c. 1935 (fig. 8). In this
image, a hanging victim lies dead on the steps of a run


down church. Helen Langa argues that lynch violence
served primarily as a "state sanctioned terrorism" that
allowed whites to enforce control across racial and class
divisions.15 By depicting the victim on the steps of a
dilapidated African-American church, Woodruff comments
on how lynching affected the dignity of the African-
American community as a whole.
Woodruff s lynch victims can be seen as martyrs as
well. Just as the Mende did, these victims remained poised
and strong in the face of their antagonists. Despite the
tribulations they faced as a result of the color of their skin,
and their violent deaths, Woodruff suggests that they
overcome these circumstances in a spiritual realm. Both of
Woodruff s lynch victims were depicted in a pious way:
one with a cross on his chest, and the other on the steps of
a church. The Mende's redeemed Christian souls would
return to Africa and spread the word of God to other West
Africans. Although harsh and violent, the lynching prints
and the murals, provide hope and optimism to
contemporary African-Americans. Woodruff illustrates that
with faith, good can always come to those who fight for
their freedom.
Woodruff s contemporary prints at the Anti-Lynching
exhibit and the Talladega Murals, both speak of the modem
enslavement of African American people (some of whom
remained quiet in the face of White terrorism and racial
persecution). While on the surface it may seem that the
murals were just an account of history visualized, they
served as calls to action about contemporary events. The
murals at Talladega served as a reminder to students that
not all Africans passively accepted slavery and that they
should not passively accept theirs-segregation and racial
violence in the South. Lynching imagery would demand
action from African-Americans to fight against their
contemporary enslavement just as the Mende did.


Figure 6: Hale Woodruff, Detail of Panel I depicting ropes, The Mutiny, 1938-
1939


15Ibid.


University of Florida I Journal of Undergraduate Research I Volume 10, Issue 4 I Summer 2009





AMINA NASEER


Figure 7: Hale Woodruff, Detail depicting the Holy Bible, The Return, 1938-
1939

In addition to the scathing lynching prints completed
before his Talladega years, Woodruff completed some
paintings in the same style as the Amistad during his
residency at Talladega. As seen in the prints, Woodruff s
use of line helps him visualize bold movement in his
works. His figures are dynamic, poised, and Woodruff uses
line and shading to highlight the masculine contours of the
men's bodies. In stark contrast however, is Woodruff s
Negro Boy, c. 1939 (fig.9).16 The boy is weak and quiet,
and symbolizes the African-American community in the
South. While there is no dynamism or conflict in the
painting, the high-key color palette, dramatic folds of the
clothing, attention to wood details, and overall style are
very reminiscent of the figures in the Amistad mural. The
boy is somber and lonely, and he represents the entire
African-American community living in the South during
the 1930s and 40s.


Figure 8: Hale Woodruff, ByParties Unknown, 1935. From the Selectionsfrom
the Atlanta Period 1931-1936, printed by Robert Blackburn in 1996, linocut on
chine-colle

Woodruff used bold and vivid colors to create exciting,
powerful images in the Amistad mural. He may have hoped
that with this exciting mural the students would be roused
to action. However, in the Negro Boy, Woodruff depicts
loneliness and sadness. Woodruff exhibited the painting in
1942 at the Exhibition of American Portrait Painting.17
Perhaps Woodruff was concerned that his desire for social
change would not be realized or that the students would not
heed his call to action. A proper understanding of their
ancestral legacy would ensure that the students would work
courageously to end racial violence. By exhibiting Negro
Boy in a nationally circulated exhibition, Woodruff
visualized the emotional state of African-Americans.
Woodruff provided hope and optimism to his audience in
Talladega, for they were mostly all southern blacks. The
exhibition that circulated the Negro Boy was operated by
the American Federation for the Arts, a national art
organization, which primarily drew a white audience. By
circulating the painting nationally, Woodruff was showing


16 Also known as Little Boy. 17 Amaki, 32.


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HALE WOODRUFF'S TALLADEGA COLLEGE MURALS


Figure 9: Hale Woodruff, Negro Boy, 1938

white Americans the negative impact of racial violence in
the South. By choosing a young boy as his subject, rather
than a strong West African man, Woodruff poignantly
illustrates his desire for social reform. He also avoids
presenting this white audience with an image of violent
resistance by blacks. Instead he appeals for sympathy. This
suggests his canny tactics for addressing different
audiences. By displaying his art to people of all races and
social classes, Woodruff showed Americans that in order to
achieve reform, strength and a drive for change was needed
from all Americans, black and white alike.
Future murals such as, The Art of the Negro c. 1950
for Atlanta University's Trevor Arnett Library explored
themes similar to those in the Amistad series although in a
more direct way. Wardlaw contends that The Art of the
Negro mural was conceived between two periods in which
African-Americans looked to Africa as a source for their
heritage: the New Negro Movement, started by Alain
Locke in the 1920s, and the politically and culturally
charged Civil Rights Movement that emerged in the 1950s.
Both of these movements would attempt to stir black
consciousness and it was Woodruff s goal in his artwork to
do the same. In 1970 Woodruff claimed, "I'd hoped the
work would be an inspiration to all the students who


entered the AU (Atlanta University) library. I'd hoped
they'd look up and wonder about what they saw.""18
In conclusion, Woodruff's Amistad murals and other
artworks remain a testament to the skill of a great artist. He
served as an inspiration as he perfected the use of art as an
impetus for social reform. While he is not alive to see it
toady, it can be said that the in light of the most recent
presidential election, much of Woodruffs dream for
freedom was realized.

Bibliography

Amaki, Amalia. "Hale Woodruff in Atlanta: Art, Academics, Activism and
Africa," Hale Woodruff, Nancy Elizabeth Prophet, and the Academy.
Atlanta; Seattle: Spelman College Museum of Fine Art; In association with
University of Washington Press, 2007.
Hale Woodruff: 50 Years of His Art. New York: The Studio Museum in Harlem,
1979.
Langa, Helen. "Two Antilynching Art Exhibitions: Politicized Viewpoints, Racial
Perspectives, Gendered Constraints." American Art vol. 13, no. 1 (Spring,
1999): 11-39.
McDaniel, M. Akua. "Re-Examining Hale Woodruffs Talladega College and
Atlanta Murals," Hale Woodruff, Nancy Elizabeth Prophet, and the
Academy. Atlanta; Seattle: Spelman College Museum of Fine Art; In
association with University of Washington Press, 2007.
Murray, Albert. "Oral History: Interview With Hale Woodruff' Archives of
American Art, 1968.
Reynolds, Gary A., Chicago Public Library Cultural Center, David C. Driskell,
Gibbes Museum of Art, Newark Museum, and Beryl J. Wright. Against the
Odds: African-American Artists and the Harmon Foundation. Newark, N.J.:
Newark Museum, 1989.
Wardlaw, Alvia. "A Spiritual Libation," Black Art--Ancestral Legacy: The
African Impulse in African- American Art. Dallas, Tex.; New York: Dallas
Museum of Art; Distributed by H.N. Abrams, 1989.


18 Woodruff Qtd. in Wardlaw, 68.


University of Florida I Journal of Undergraduate Research I Volume 10, Issue 4 | Summer 2009