About Alex

Alexander W. Cowan is a graduate student in Historical Musicology at Harvard University, working on the intersections of race, music, and politics in the 1920s-30s USA; and interested more broadly in questions of music and politics, social and intellectual history, and the historiography of American music, particularly concerning the Blues.

Past projects have focused on the role of race(ism) in the Popular Front folk  revival, and the place of music in the American eugenics movement.

Academic CV

Harvard Graduate Student Page


See_America,_Welcome_to_Montana,_WPA_poster,_ca._1937Cover image: ‘Welcome to Montana’, from the WPA’s ‘See America’ program. I have no particular attachment to Montana, but I first encountered these posters during research for my undergraduate dissertation and was immediately taken with the aesthetic.

As I discussed in the realm of music, much WPA art is guilty of a romantic sort of racism. For a critique of this poster campaign, I recommend:

Cory Pillen, ‘See America: Wpa Posters and the Mapping of a New Deal Democracy’, The Journal of American Culture, 31 (2008), 49-65.

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