Mainstream Song, 1520–2020 - Music Research Colloquia

A presentation by Oskar Cox-Jensen, Newcastle University.


In this talk, I propose an alternative to a binary model of popular and elite cultures. I suggest instead, a single, persistent, highly inclusive mainstream that has characterised much of European culture and especially its songs for five hundred years.

Struggles over this resource have been interpreted by historians as decisive breaks in cultural practice. What if, instead, we thought of these as rhetorical contestations over what has remained a mainstream product, held in common across divides of class, age, gender, geography, and time?

Rather than endlessly refining and problematising an elite/popular binary that no one quite believes in, we might just find a fruitful new framework for conceptualising the history of culture. 

About Oskar Cox-Jensen

Oskar Cox Jensen is NUAcT Fellow in Music at Newcastle University.

He is a core member of the research project and a founder member of the Romantic National Song Network and the Nineteenth-Century Song Club.

He is the author of Vagabonds: Life on the Streets of Nineteenth-Century London (Duckworth, 2022); The Ballad-Singer in Georgian and Victorian London (Cambridge, 2021); and Napoleon and British Song, 1797–1822 (Palgrave, 2015); and co-editor of Charles Dibdin and Late Georgian Culture (Oxford, 2018) and a special forum of Journal of British Studies: Music and Politics in Britain (2021).

Oskar is also an AHRC/BBC New Generation Thinker and novelist. 

Join the event

Join in person in Music LT2 or online via Zoom at the scheduled time.

This event is part of the 2023-24 School of Music Research Colloquia.