Thursday, March 22, 2012

CFP: for the Journal of Popular Music Studies special issue on queer and transgender studies in popular music


Proposed Special Issue of the Journal of Popular Music Studies
Guest Editors: Francesca Royster and Tavia Nyong’o

The Journal of Popular Music Studies invites submissions for a special issue on queer and transgender studies in popular music. Love and eroticism are central to the experience of popular music. But the very ubiquity and ostensible universality of those themes have not always led music studies to do justice to the experiences and ways of knowing of minoritarian sexualities and genders. Conversely, critiques of the homo/hetero and cis/trans binaries that have emerged in queer and trans studies have often focused on literary and visual studies, less commonly to music. Music, however, would seem to be ideally suited for the decentered, materialist and/or subjectless critique pioneered in transgender and queer studies. To date, work at the intersection of queer theory and music has tended to focus either on classical music and opera, on the one hand, or on the sociocultural dimensions of popular music on the other. This issue seeks instead to center the sonic as a crucial means for thinking the popular beyond static identity categories. We hope to bring the best of recent work in queer and transgender theory to bear on music and sound studies. Some possible directions of inquiry might include (but are not limited to):

  • Global, regional, and transnational musics and scenes;
  • Queering the geography of musical production, including the centrality of performance spaces such as bars, discos, etc. in the ways we map queer spaces;
  • Theorizing trans/ gender queer voice and/or sound;
  • Rethinking questions of mainstreams, margins, and questions of genre or format;
  • Queer of color critique and queer musical assemblages;
  • Intimacy, belonging, and lyrical subjectivity;
  • Popular musics in historical perspective, and historicizations of the popular/high culture distinction in music.
Papers should be approximately 7,000 words. Send complete papers to Francesca Royster ( or Tavia Nyong’o ( by August 15th, 2012.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Friday Breakfast - all invited!

EMP Feminist Working Group Breakfast

Join Feminist Working Group organizers Tavia Nyong'o, Daphne Brooks, Sarah Dougher, Daphne Carr, Caroline O'Meara, and Ann Powers at a breakfast to welcome attendees and participants of the IASPM-US/EMP Pop Conference who are interested in intersectional study of gender, sexuality, music, and performance. We especially want to welcome first time attendees at the conference. 7:30-8:30am, Friday, March 23, 2012.

 Tisch School of the Arts
721 Broadway, between Waverly Place and Washington Place, just south of Eighth Street.

The event will be on the MAIN FLOOR, the Commons area. (there was a room change for the better!) RSVP is closed. Just show up!

Sponsored by the New York University Music Department.

2012 Intersectional Panels/Papers

Here is a list of intersectional gender/sexuality/queer theory/critical race theory/feminism oriented panels that we at the Feminist Working Group hope you will attend as part of the IASPM-US/EMP Pop Conference at NYU March 22-25.

Friday March 23

7:30-8:30am EMP Feminist Working Group Breakfast

Join Feminist Working Group organizers Tavia Nyong'o, Daphne Brooks, Sarah Dougher, Daphne Carr, Caroline O'Meara, and Ann Powers at a breakfast to welcome attendees and participants of the IASPM-US/EMP Pop Conference who are interested in intersectional study of gender, sexuality, music, and performance. We especially want to welcome first time attendees at the conference. 7:30-8:30am, Friday, March 23, 2012.
Location: Department of Performance Studies / Tisch School of the Arts is located at 721 Broadway, between Waverly Place and Washington Place, just south of Eighth Street. The event will be on the 6th floor. (You will need picture ID to enter the building). Sponsored by the New York University Music Department. RSVP: musicwriterFMW at gmail dot com

Roundtable: Feminist Musicking and Educational Activism in Urban Spaces

Lauren Onkey
LaRonda Davis
Karla Schickele
Maureen Mahon

Friday Papers

Gayle Wald, "'Deliver De Letter': 'Please Mr. Postman,' the Marvelettes, and the Afro-Caribbean Imaginary"

Wills Glasspiegel & Martin Scherzinger, "Beyoncé's Afro-Future: Power and Play in "Run the World (Girls)""

Rustem Ertug Altinay, "'In Konya she would marry a regular dude, but Serife from Konya is now a Lady': Power, Sexuality and Cities in Gungor Bayrak's Autobiographic Songs"

Summer Kim Lee, "'Singin' Up On You': Queer Intimacies of the Sonorous Body In 'The New Sound Karaoke'"

Daniel Sander, "Girl. Reverb. Notes on Queer Tactics of Sonorous Difference"

Kyessa L. Moore, "(Sub)Spacialized Urban Sound, Expressive Communion and Identificatory Dislocations"

Vivian L. Huang, "Not That Innocent: Britney Spears, Laurel Nakadate and Strangers"

Julia DeLeon, "Dance Through the Dark Night: Distance, Dissonance and Queer Belonging"

Summer Kim Lee, "'Singin' Up On You': Queer Intimacies of the Sonorous Body In 'The New Sound Karaoke'"

Daniel Sander, "Girl. Reverb. Notes on Queer Tactics of Sonorous Difference"

Kyessa L. Moore, "(Sub)Spacialized Urban Sound, Expressive Communion and Identificatory Dislocations"

Rachel Devitt, "I Love a (Pride) Parade: Queer Community-Building, Temporary Spaces and Politicized Kitsch among LGBT Marching Bands"

Evelyn McDonnell, "The Roads to Ruin"

Matthew Carrillo-Vincent, "Ears to the Streets, Peripheral Beats: The New Social Map of Backpack Rap"

Jacqueline Warwick, "'Bigger than Big and Smaller than Small': Child Stars, Street Urchins, and Little Orphan Annie"

Tracy McMullen, "In the Beginning, You Are There: Cloning Genesis and the Return of the Urbane"

Tavia Nyong'o, "Shame and Scandal and Zombies"

Karen Tongson, "Drive and Sounds of the '80s Metropolis"

Rebekah Farrugia & Kellie Hay, "'The Foundation' in Detroit: Challenging Conventional Ideologies about Sex and Gender in Hip Hop"

Denise Dalphond, "Eclecticism in Detroit: Diverse Dance Party Scenes in Electronic Music"

Carleton S. Gholz, "Remembering Rita: Sound, Sexuality, and Memory"

Saturday March 24

Roundtable: Violence Girl: East L.A. Rage to Hollywood Stage, A Chicana Punk Story -- a D.I.Y. "Archiverista" Conversation

Moderated by: Bibbe Hansen
Alice Velasquez
Sean Carrillo
Michelle Habell-Pallán

Saturday Papers

Andreana Clay, "Feelin' Mighty Real: Race, Space, and Identity in the Castro"

Mashadi Matabane, "'All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some of Us Are Brave': The Cultural Politics of Black Women Musicians with an 'Axe' to Grind"

Laina Dawes, "'Black Metal is not for n@#$s, stupid b@#h!': Black Female Metal Fans' Inter/External Culture Clash"

Birgitta J. Johnson, "Women of the L.A. 'Undergrind': Female Artists Creating Alternatives to Mainstream Hip-hop's Plastic Ceiling"

Cookie Woolner, "'Ethel Must Not Marry': Black Swan Records and the Queer Classic Blues Women"

Roundtable: "Feminist and Queer Studies of Race in Sound"
This roundtable convenes two fields of scholarly inquiry—critical race studies and feminist theory/queer studies—to explore the following interrelated questions: How does sound construct racialized and gendered meaning and/or prompt processes of racial subjection? How might various hermeneutics of sound enrich and/or expand current ethnic and gender studies approaches to the study of racial formation? And how might we collectively forge a feminist, queer analytic for the study of racialized sound and sonic processes of racialization?

Moderated by: Kevin Fellezs
Kirstie Dorr
Roshanak Kheshti
Deborah Vargas

Lindsay Bernhagen, "'Everyone here is a little weird!': Gender and Musical Intersubjectivity at the Girlz Rhythm 'n' Rock Camp"

Maren Hancock, "Last Night a Shejay Saved My Life? Or, Do We Still Need Women Only Spaces to Nurture Female DJs?"

Marquita R. Smith, "Women of the City Underground: On Jean Grae's 'Tactical' Use of Mixtape Culture"

Daniel Party, "Chile's Revolution: Girl Style Now!"

Sara Marcus, "'Living in a Big Old City': Can Country Music's Urban/Rural Moral Binary Survive?"

Sunday March 25

Daphne A. Brooks, "'One of these mornings, you're gonna rise up singing': The Secret Black Feminist History of the Gershwins' Porgy and Bess "

Farah Jasmine Griffin, "Playing through the Changes: Mary Lou Williams' Manhattan"

Salamishah Tillet, "Bethlehem, Boardwalks, and the City of Brotherly Love: Nina Simone's Pre-Civil Rights Aesthetic"

Jayna Brown, "After the End of the World: Afro Diasporan Feminism and Alternative Dimensions of Sound"

Holly Hobbs, "Little Sparrows and Tender Maidens: Thoughts on Old and New World Balladry and Cautionary Tales"

Alison Fensterstock, "Fallen Angels: The Persistent Plotline of Woman's Ruin in Hip-Hop, Hair Metal and Beyond"

Holly George-Warren, "Dolly Does Deflowered Damsels: How Dolly Parton's Fallen-Woman Songcraft Took Her to the Top"

Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, "Cunt Music: When Vogue House Dips Meet Dipset"

Leah Tallen Branstetter, "Little Miss Swivel Hips 1957: In Search of the 'Female Elvis'"

Alexandra Apolloni, "Beat Girls and Dollybirds: Envoicing Swinging London"

Elizabeth Lindau, "'Mother Superior': Maternity as Performance Art in the Work of Yoko Ono"

Elizabeth Keenan, "Out in the Streets: 1960s Girl Groups and the Imagined Urban Space of New York City"

Sarah Dougher, "Making Noise in the Safe Space: How Girls' Rock Camps Make Place in the City"

Diane Pecknold, "The Spectral Cityscapes of Tween Pop"

Tim Lawrence, "Networking and Contact: Competing Forms of Queerness on the New York Dance Floor, 1980-88"

Jack Halberstam, "Losing Control: Grace Jones vs. Joy Division"

Lucy O'Brien, "Can I Have a Taste of Your Ice Cream? (Post punk feminism and the Yorkshire Ripper)"

Gillian Gower, "Riot Culture: Beats, Banksy, and the Bristol Sound"

Friday, January 13, 2012

2012 Feminist Working Group organizers

Daphne A. Brooks is professor of English and African-American Studies at Princeton University where she teaches courses on African-American literature and culture, performance studies, critical gender studies, and popular music culture. She is the author of two books: Bodies in Dissent: Spectacular Performances of Race and Freedom, 1850-1910 (Durham, NC: Duke UP), winner of the The Errol Hill Award for Outstanding Scholarship on African American Performance from ASTR and Jeff Buckley's Grace (New York: Continuum, 2005). Brooks is currently working on a new book entitled Subterranean Blues: Black Women and Sound Subcultures--from Minstrelsy through the New Millennium (Harvard University Press, forthcoming).  She is the author of numerous articles on race, gender, performance and popular music culture such as “This Voice Which Is Not One: Amy Winehouse Sings the Ballad of Sonic Blue(s)face Culture” in Women and Performance; “The Write to Rock: Racial Mythologies, Feminist Theory, and the Pleasures of Rock Music Criticism” in Women and Music; and “‘All That You Can't Leave Behind’: Surrogation & Black Female Soul Singing in the Age of Catastrophe” in Meridians. Brooks is also the author of the liner notes for The Complete Tammi Terrell (Universal A&R, 2010), winner of the 2011 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for outstanding music writing and Take a Look: Aretha Franklin Complete on Columbia (Sony, 2011).

Daphne Carr is a publisher, editor, music writer, and ethnomusicologist living in New York City. She is the publisher of Feedback Press, home of the Best Music Writing series. She was series editor for the title between 2006-2011 at Da Capo Press.  She is the author of Nine Inch Nails Pretty Hate Machine (Continuum 2011), and a contributor to the books Marooned: The Next Generation of Desert Island Discs (Da Capo 2007) and Listen Again (Duke University Press 2007). She is currently pursuing a PhD in ethnomusicology at Columbia University and runs a listserv for women music writers, Girl Group.

Sarah Dougher is a composer, musician and educator living in Portland, Oregon. Her musical work is focused on composition for, and co-direction of the Flash Choir, a free, non-audition community choir of approximately 30. She also writes music for her solo project, and collaborates with friends on the hootenanny band, the Stumptown Family Ramblers. She has released albums on K, Kill Rock Stars, Mr. Lady, and her own label, Cherchez La Femme. Sarah teaches at Portland State University in the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies department, as well as in the University Studies department. Her academic interests focus around issues related to homeless youth and food insecurity, as well as gender and popular music.

Tavia Nyong'o's research interests include the intersections of race and sexuality, visual art and performance, and cultural history. He teaches courses on black performance, the history of the body, and subcultural performance. His book, The Amalgamation Waltz: Race, Performance, and the Ruses of Memory (University of Minnesota Press, 2009), investigates musical, aesthetic, and political practices that conjoined blackness and whiteness in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He is the web editor of Social Text.

Caroline Polk O'Meara is a musicologist and an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin, where she teaches in the Butler School of Music. She specializes in American music of the twentieth century, including art and popular music. O'Meara received her PhD and master's degrees in musicology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and graduated with honors from Princeton University.  O'Meara's current scholarly activities include her book project, Musical Mappings: Late Twentieth-Century American Music in New York City, which is about how New Yorkers on the urban periphery used music to imagine and create a place for themselves within a city putatively the core of American musical and social life. It includes chapters on downtown New York, punk rock, hip-hop, and contemporary classical music. Other research areas include noise and liveness in Austin, Texas. She has published articles in Popular Music and American Music, and presented research at annual meetings of the American Musicological Society, Society for American Music, Society for Ethnomusicology, and American Studies Association. In 2011, she organized and moderated a conference seminar on the topic "Music and Place" for the Society for American Music; she has also written the entry on "Music and Place" for the Grove Dictionary of American Music, second edition. She is currently the treasurer for the International Association of Popular Music, United States branch.

Ann Powers is NPR Music's critic and correspondent. She writes for NPR's music news blog, The Record, and she can be heard on NPR's newsmagazines and music programs. Powers served as chief pop music critic at the Los Angeles Times from 2006 until she joined NPR. Prior to the Los Angeles Times, she was senior critic at Blender and senior curator at Experience Music Project. From 1997 to 2001 Powers was a pop critic at The New York Times and before that worked as a senior editor at the Village Voice. Powers began her career working as an editor and columnist at San Francisco Weekly. Her writing extends beyond blogs, magazines and newspapers. Powers co-wrote Tori Amos: Piece By Piece, with Amos, which was published in 2005. In 1999, Power's book Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America was published. She was the editor, with Evelyn McDonnell, of the 1995 book Rock She Wrote: Women Write About Rock, Rap, and Pop and the editor of Best Music Writing 2010.

2012 Call

2012 Feminist Working Group: Turn It Up!

Here's our 2012 call to action:

Turn It Up! Listening to Difference
A series of panels sponsored by the Feminist Working Group

The Feminist Working Group will host a series of panels and meet-ups at the 2012 EMP Pop Conference, presented on March 22-25, 2012 by NYU's Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music in conjunction with the Annual Meeting of the US branch of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music(IASPM-US). The aim of these events is to provide social space, a forum for research and ideas, and opportunities to network for women, lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgendered people, people of color, and anyone without traditionally privileged access to academia, journalism and/or the music industry.

The theme of this year's conference "Sounds of the City" invites us to reconsider the 'gorgeous mosaic' that is the metropolis. How do we make our voices heard, listen to others, and share the groove? How should popular music and sound studies engage questions of diversity and inclusion? How do we continue to think in the 'singular plural,' accounting for the overlapping and ever-evolving way in which identities are lived and imagined? How do we learn to listen to (and for) difference?

We invite and encourage a wide diversity of discourses related to experiencing sound in the city including the work of scholars,activists, journalists, teachers, musicians, and archivists. Bring us your scholarship, your manifestos, your archives, your communities, your selves. Priority will be given to topics that address the ways identities and communities intersect and overlap, and that pay attention to the multiple aspects of difference: including gender, sexuality, race, class, citizenship, religion, region, and able-bodiedness. Accepted presentations will be grouped onto panels by the organizers, and should be designed to accommodate a 20-minute time limit, and minimal tech requirements beyond classroom A/V and internet access.

Email submission deadline: October 15th, 2012
Email a 250-word paper or presentation proposal, with 50-word bio, to turnitup2012 at gmail dot com

Please Note: Submission to Turn It Up! should not preclude submission to the open call for EMP/IASPM-US:
All proposals that are NOT accepted for Turn It Up! will automatically be sent on to the EMP/IASPM-US committee unless the proposer indicates otherwise.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Feminist Working Group history

About us

In 2007, the Experience Music Project Pop Conference held a tribute to the feminist music critic Ellen Willis. The next year, a group of writers, scholars, musicians and fans gathered to continue her legacy through the creation of the EMP Pop Conference feminist working group. The first working group drew over 50 participants from multiple generations and who had a variety of definitions and opinions about what feminism is/does. Some were surprised that such a space as this could operate in the supposedly "post-feminist" era. The next year, even more people came to the group, so we broke into four sub-sections (activism, teaching, writing, performance - although most people could participate in two or more of the discussion) for discussion and skill sharing. In 2010, the group put together a panel that was specially focused on the relationship between gender/sexuality and technology, featuring musicians Tara Rodgers (also author of Pink Noises, 2010), Emily Wells, and Wynne Greenwood.

In 2011 we expanded to a full day of panels, discussion, working groups, and guest talks under the title, "Work It," a play on a classic Missy tune that fit well with the 2011 EMP conference theme of music and money. The conference was held at USC with sponsorship from the USC Gender Studies Program, Center for Feminist Research, Department of Music and the Journal of Popular Music Studies. Find full details about the conference here.

In 2012 we move with EMP as it combines with IASPM-US March 22-25 at New York University, where we have sponsored several panels on feminist/queer theory topics under the title "Turn It Up!" We are organizing even more for this, the largest ever EMP gathering.

Our History

2007 Lunch Session - Ellen Willis Tribute
Activist, journalist, and educator Ellen Willis was one of the first writers in the 1960s to publish critical essays on rock music and was the first pop critic for the New Yorker. Her writing always addressed her three R's, "radicalism, religion and rock," and her language reflected the spirit of rock's vernacular, while maintaining a fierce intellectual edge. In the 1970s, Willis turned her attention towards contemporary politics and gender, but she never lost her interest in popular culture. She founded the feminist activist group Redstockings and becoming a major critical opponent to anti-pornography feminism in the 1980s. In 1995 she founded the Center for Cultural Reporting and Criticism at New York University, where she taught a generation of cultural critics and continued writing about politics and culture until her death in the fall of 2006, at the age of 64. The New York Observer called her "a rock n' roll feminist superhero" and each elegy for Willis asked for her work to be read, remembered and discussed and for her spirit to continue. In this lunchtime tribute, her friends, peers and followers, including Sasha Frere-Jones, Robert Christgau, and Ann Powers, read brief excerpts of Willis's writing, rock and otherwise, and reflect on the impact of her work in their own writing and activist lives. Moderated by: Daphne Carr
2008 Lunch Session - Feminist Working Group  This roundtable discussion features women working in various fields sharing their experiences of trying to integrate feminist politics into their work. All conference participants are welcome, but outreach to women attendees will, we hope, create a "safe space" for discussing these issues within the Pop Conference.
2009 Dance This Mess Around: A Feminist Working Group Discussion In a pop scene with room for both transgendered divo Antony Hegarty and inexhaustible man-izer Britney Spears, nontraditional displays of sexuality are almost normative. If "deviance" or "symbolic rebellion" are devalued as political acts as they enter mainstream culture, what role should feminism play in reanimating conversation on the subject? How do you continue to make these subjects meaningful within the context of your teaching, writing, artistic production and performance, or other work? This discussion is open to all, but also serves as a way for feminist conference participants to meet and create connections. Moderated by: Daphne Carr, Ann Powers, Sarah Dougher Moderated by: Daphne Carr, Ann Powers
2010 Feminist Working Group  This round-table features several artists known for deploying new technologies, in conversation with the Feminist Working Group communities about issues of gender, sexuality, music and technology. We hope to discuss the relationship between technology and empowerment, the gendered and racial nature of machines, the master's tools, and the transformative possibilities of technologies in the hands of women. Moderated by: Sarah Dougher, Ann Powers Featuring: Emily Wells, "Feminist Working Group Session" Wynne Greenwood, "Feminist Working Group Session" Tara Rodgers, "Feminist Working Group Session"
2011 Work It: gender, race, and sexuality in pop professions A conference at USC that was held February 24, 2011 in association with the 2011 EMP Pop Music Conference The biggest stars of the day from Katy Perry, Nikki Minaj, Lady Gaga, to Adam Lambert, play in the brightest lights with conventions of gender and sexuality, echoing and building upon traditions of pop performance as old as the stage itself. In basements, barrooms, concert halls and cafes across the country, artists of all types do the same—and more—while rooted in various political, performative, and social contexts they might hesitate to call “feminist” but will surely call “doing their thing.” And at the same time, an industry shifts dynamically in the wake of dramatic technological changes, rendering concepts of “professionalism” in new light while the academy shifts to deal with popular culture in ways more inclusive than ever before (or not). At this day-long conference, a group of music journalists, scholars, musicians, and music industry professionals came together to talk about the changing role of gender, race, and sexuality in the pop music world. This conference was organized by Karen Tongson, Ann Powers, Daphne Carr, and Sarah Dougher.
2012 Turn It Up! Listening to Difference A series of panels sponsored by the Feminist Working Group NYU, March 22-25, 2012