Introduction: “What Have You Done to My Heart?”: Unrequited Love and The Question of Utopia

  • Daniel T. Contreras


The title of this book refers to the jazz standard “April in Paris,” composed by E. Y. Harburg and Vernon Duke, here as sung by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. “What have you done to my heart?” is the last line of the song, expressing the heartbreak associated with the beauty of Paris in the spring, seen through the vivid context of a broken love affair. Within the line is a commingling of romantic yearning and remembrance, and this project partakes in this ambiance. I also want the lyric to function as a refrain throughout the work in this sense: popular culture has impacted various communities and various people (myself included) in profoundly emotional and strangely moving ways. Popular culture has indeed done something to my heart—it has given my emotions a context and a history. The line also contains a recognition that this change in the heart is irreversible. A transformation is effected, which is experienced—at the same time—as a gift and as a mourned loss. There is, too, an ironic juxtaposition in combining the smooth, silky voice of Ella Fitzgerald, who was famous for her sensuous and perfect pitch, with Louis Armstrong’s gruff, idiosyncratic one. This odd, yet somehow “just right” kind of juxtaposition is emblematic of what I explore throughout this book.


Popular Culture Soap Opera Hollywood Movie True Love Affective Investment 
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© Daniel T. Contreras 2005

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  • Daniel T. Contreras

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