Anicia Timberlake

Dissertation Fellow
Photo of Anicia Timberlake

In her dissertation, “The Politics and Praxis of Children's Music Education in the German Democratic Republic, 1949-1989,” Anicia Timberlake (Music) examines East German educators’ and composers’ attempts to create effective socialist pedagogical practices. Using previously unexamined archival records of the GDR composer’s union, the Ministries for Education and Culture, and pedagogical research institutes, notes from children’s opera rehearsals, sociological studies on children’s listening abilities, methodological guides for teachers, and her own interviews, Timberlake reveals that most pedagogues believed the state-mandated patriotic songs to be worthless as political education. Children, they argued, learned not through the logic of texts, but through the immediacy of their bodies and their emotions. But even as music was thought to forge socialist collectives and individuals by activating children’s bodies, music’s ungovernable corporeality both posed a constant danger to these collectives and threatened to usurp the child’s rational faculty. At the same time, educators had to contend with tensions between the inherited musical traditions that had long been central in defining German identity, and the new political and ideological demands of socialist education.