Desert Island Dislocation: Emotion, Nostalgia, and the Utility of Music

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This chapter explores how the contrivance of asking people to imagine being cast away on a desert island has provided the basis for radio discussions of disc recordings that go beyond questions of taste and aesthetic value, and open up instead considerations of potential utility. Guests are not asked to list their favourite pieces of music or favourite records, nor to choose eight discs that will best illustrate their lives, nor even to limit themselves to recordings of music; they are simply asked which discs they would want to have with them if alone on a desert island, and why. Explanations for given choices often include the way in which music and other sound recordings might prove useful – for managing the castaway’s moods, their social isolation, their sense of loss and displacement, their ostensibly endless ‘free time’, and their likely desire to wish to keep memory of people and places alive. Castaways mostly choose music, but sometimes opt for recordings of other sorts, including of their children. Recordings, I argue, prove to be nostalgia ready and especially well suited to managing the programme’s fictional scenario.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDefining the Discographic Self
Subtitle of host publicationDesert Island DIscs in Context
EditorsJulie Brown, Nicholas Cook, Stephen Cottrell
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9780197266175
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2017

Publication series

NameProceedings of the British Academy
PublisherOxford University Press
ISSN (Print)0068-1202

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