The Clare Spark Blog

June 5, 2009

Who is Clare and what is the Yankee Doodle Society?

Filed under: Postings by Clare — clarelspark @ 3:23 am
Tags: ,

Clare Spark is an historian, with degrees from Cornell University (B.S. ’58), Harvard Graduate School of Education (M.A.T. in Science Teaching ’59), and UCLA (Ph.D.’93). From 1969 through 1998 she produced hundreds of radio programs on the politics of the art world for Los Angeles Pacifica station KPFK, and was Program Director of the station from 2-81 through July 1982. Her expanded doctoral dissertation was published by Kent State University Press in 2001 and 2006 as Hunting Captain Ahab: Psychological Warfare and the Melville Revival. Another research interest is the career of Ralph Bunche and his changing politics from the 1930s through the 1940s. Clare is currently appearing as occasional guest commentator on LivingArts, produced by Michael Woodson for Pacifica station KPFT (Houston).

The Yankee Doodle Society was founded by Joseph Byrd and Clare Spark in 1974 in order to reproduce and analyze and reproduce (without censorship) the music of the American middle class in the early and mid-nineteenth century, unmistakably racist and “modern.” That body of music has already been recorded and historicized with grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and TOSCO. YDS is a 501(c)3 organization and welcomes donations. Future projects will focus on the political culture (including the culture of the academy and of the mass media) of the twentieth and twentieth centuries, continuing to rely upon primary sources and original interpretations of the main themes in American and European history, for instance, in current diagnoses of mass death, identity, ethnicity and mental illness, especially as these concepts impinge upon artistic/cultural /individual freedom. [CS] [Update 6-12-18: The Yankee Doodle Society has been terminated. It was originally a 70s phenomenon, but Clare Spark continues her blogging along similar lines, though with identical loyalty to history, science, and Enlightenment.]


  1. This is a noble end — your society’s evolving work, taken in concert (no pun intended) with your own autodidactic education, both in the world of media politics and in the environment of the “liberal” academy, which can be quite constraining, from the publishing point of view, to radical-feeling ideas (e.g., Ahab’s changing meaning, over time, and across nation-space). How does one sign up, I wonder? Are grants being offered, what special bona fides of a researcher (rather like yourself: the independent scholar, for example, pushing against all manner of mainstream tides) do you think are best to foreground in the application, and do prospective scholars proffer their own fascinations to you directly, as long as they are under the thematic rubric laid out in this blogpost?

    One also can’t help but ask in what Melvillean fashion did you attempt to keep the ship afloat when you were Program Director at KPFK, before it went into organic dissolve? Did you identify with Ahab that far back in your life and career, as Ray Bradbury identified with the harpoon-carrying artist-with-a-wet-pen, lingering around the edges of madness (the sacrificing of ship and crew…) yet complete with his own vision of how the world should be (so many of Bradbury’s stories are political in nature!), what unfairness and certain “fates” could do to the human mind (many are about madness, and his whole Martian oeuvre is “about mass death” and chances for individual or movement-oriented redemption), and finally the problem of evil (or malevolent-feeling, such as melancholic or paranoid…) forces within the lifecourse? Perhaps you’ve commented on that bit of intellectual autobiography in the introduction or footnotes of your *Hunting* book, but for one who’s not discovered it there (yet), or anyone interested in how these early dramas propelled you forward in the therapeutic direction that is (or appears to be) YDS, it seems a reasonable, if not affectionate, question. 🙂

    Best and buona fortuna,

    Comment by david syracuse — February 24, 2010 @ 11:44 am | Reply

    • My Pacifica project was to condemn identity politics, a product of the Center-Left. Melville was talked about, but I came to the offensive against “multiculturalism” on my own, and without Melville.

      Comment by clarelspark — July 7, 2017 @ 6:53 pm | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: