Although multiple scholars have pushed music education to embrace the aesthetic as a curricular and pedagogical touchstone, research surrounding this aesthetic turn has largely framed aesthetics as a sensory experience rather than a social technology (one that can both liberate and oppress). In response, I address the following question: how do uncritical aesthetic philosophies and the experiences they engender act as a means of oppression within music education? By way of example, I approach this question through a text analysis of writings on aesthetics from The Eugenics Review, a long-running publication that disseminated eugenics news and research. In doing so, I construct a eugenical theory of aesthetics that illuminates how eugenicists used aesthetics to enact what Foucault defines as pastoral power and assert control of bodies and populations through education. I then frame the writings of Carl Seashore (a pioneering music education researcher and avowed eugenicist) within this eugenical theory of aesthetics, revealing the ways that Seashore used aesthetic theory to forward eugenical arguments. I conclude with implications for contemporary educators and researchers, sounding a call for a deep and critical examination of all aesthetic formations within music education.

You do not currently have access to this content.