JPMS Special Issue on Girls and Popular Music: Call for Papers

Call For Papers: Upcoming Journal of Popular Music Studies Special Issue on Girls and Popular Music

Guest editors: Sarah Dougher and Diane Pecknold
7,000-word articles due September 1, 2015

The Journal of Popular Music Studies invites submissions for a special issue on Girls and Popular Music. Beginning with the publication of Angela McRobbie’s work on the bedroom music culture of British girls, popular music has been a core aspect of the emergent field of girls’ studies. Conversely, attention to the musical practices of girls and to constructions of girlhood and female youth have revised our understandings of the ways popular music as a whole is produced and consumed. Kyra Gaunt’s discussion of the ways girls’ rhyming and chanting games reflect and reshape the same principles of black music-making as commercial hip-hop; Norma Coates’s suggestion that teenyboppers and groupies provided the foundational low Others against which rock culture secured its own credibility; and Gayle Wald’s interrogation of girlishness as a performative resource through which adult women’s position in popular music is established are only a few examples of critical role real and figurative girls play in shaping popular music and scholarly approaches to it.

In recent years, however, the relationship between girlhood and popular music has undergone significant shifts. The rapidly changing sphere of media and media access is often characterized as a threat to girls, both in terms of morality and productivity, but at the same time it offers them newly visible roles in the music economy as child stars, amateur musicians, and YouTube personalities. New technologies such as mobile recording, social media, YouTube, and blogging as well as new institutional structures, such as digital music distribution, the formalized tween music industry, and the rise of girl-serving organizations based on musicking call for a re-examination of the ways girlhood and female youth are constructed and experienced through popular music.

This special issue will explore the construction and expression of female youth in popular music as it is enacted in historical and contemporary contexts. How is girlhood constructed through lyrical and musical texts; marketing and distribution; and everyday consumption practices? How do such constructions differ from or compare to earlier incarnations of musical girlhood? How are race, class, sexual orientation, and other social locations implicated in those constructions? How do girls come to understand themselves and perform their identities as both gendered and childish in specifically racialized and classed ways through music? We encourage work from a multiple disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives and seek to strengthen the theoretical and practical connections between music writers and scholars, girls’ studies researchers, and people who work directly with girls.
Potential avenues of inquiry might include (but are not limited to)

  • Lyrical and musical girls: How are girls and girl-ness communicated musically, sonically and lyrically? How are those techniques employed by performers and listeners who may or may not be girls themselves? What are the consequences of music’s constructions of the girl?
  • Performing girls: How do (have) girls navigate(d) the music industry as girl groups, child stars, YouTube phenoms, rock campers, and amateur musicians? How has their musicianship been encouraged or discouraged, evaluated or ignored by critics and advocates? How has their musicianship been incorporated, imitated, or rejected in adult music practices?
  • Global girls: How do musical constructions of girlhood circulate in the global economy? How do girls around the world access and interact with popular music?
  • Girls and the public sphere: How do popular music practices affect the identity and visibility of girls as a social formation? How does popular music encourage or discourage the formation of girl publics and counter-publics?
  • Girls and race: How and when do girls of color play a role in discussions of girls and popular music? How are their experiences and uses of popular music shaped by their position at the intersection of race, age, gender, and class? How are their experiences foregrounded, acknowledged and/or erased in considerations of the category of “girl” as consumers or producers of music?
  • Girls and fandom: What are the promises and pitfalls of music fandom among girls? How do girls understand their roles as fans? How do girls perform their fandom and what importance do they assign to it? What functions does the construction of the girl fan serve in popular music discourse?
  • Girls and sexuality: What are the possibilities and limits of popular music as an avenue for girls to explore and express sexuality? How do trans and queer girls figure in the creation and consumption of popular music? What do adults and girls make of moral panics, sexualization and sexual scandals?

Papers should be approximately 7,000 words and should be submitted via the JPMS ScholarOne portal by September 1, 2015.
Please indicate, when prompted on the submission form, that the article is to be considered for inclusion in the special issue on girls and popular music.

Additionally, the issue will feature writing collaborations by girls who are involved with girl-serving organizations. If you work with girls, and you/they would like to participate in a creative writing project about popular music, please contact Sarah Dougher ( by Feb. 15, 2015.

Call for Proposals: IASPM-US Annual Conference and EMP Pop Conference

IASPM-US Annual Conference (February 19-22, 2015. Louisville, KY). Hosted jointly by the University of Louisville and Bellarmine University.)
Theme: “Notes on Deconstructing Popular Music (Studies): Global Media and Critical Interventions”

Call for proposals, due Oct. 15, 2014.

EMP Pop Conference (April 16-19, 2015. Seattle, WA).
Theme: “Get Ur Freak On: Music, Weirdness, and Transgressions”

Call for proposals, due Nov. 17, 2014.

“Same DNA, But Born This Way”: Lady Gaga and the Possibilities of Post-Essentialist Feminisms


(Editor’s note: As part of our increasing goal in making use of digital tools to share JPMS content, we’re enhancing select journal pieces with embedded sound/video, increased linking, pop-up footnotes, etc. From our recent 26.1, we’ve selected Juliet Williams‘s fantastic Amplifier essay. Please share! –O.W.)

Williams, Juliet. ““Same DNA, But Born This Way”: Lady Gaga and the Possibilities of Post-Essentialist Feminisms.” Journal of Popular Music Studies 26.1 (2014): 28-46.

Since bursting on the scene in 2008 with her first studio album, The Fame, Lady Gaga has enjoyed the devotion of an unusually dedicated cadre of fans, affectionately dubbed her “little monsters.” Lady Gaga also has attracted the attention of scholars, leading to numerous tongue-in-cheek media reports documenting the rise of Gaga Studies as a field of academic inquiry (Corona, 2010; Eby, 2010).1 Required reading now includes J. Jack Halberstam’s recent book, Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal (2012). In the opening pages, Halberstam offers up Lady Gaga as “a symbol for a new kind of feminism” (xii). This new feminism, which Halberstam dubs gaga feminism, “…is simultaneously a monstrous outgrowth of the unstable category of ‘woman’ in feminist theory, a celebration of the joining of femininity to artifice, and a refusal of the mushy sentimentalism that has been siphoned into the category of womanhood” (xiii). As Halberstam explains, gaga feminism rejects the “fixity of roles for males and females” (5) and celebrates “the withering away of old social models of desire, gender, and sexuality” (25). It is a feminism that “recognizes multiple genders, that contributes to the collapse of our current sex-gender systems” (25). In its wake, gaga feminism creates an opening for “new forms of relation, intimacy, technology, and embodiment” (25).

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Call for papers: upcoming JPMS special issue on global club cultures

Guest Editors: Madison Moore and Francisco Raul Cornejo

The Journal of Popular Music Studies invites submissions for a special issue on global nightlife cultures. There’s a myth that to be interested in nightlife — to party, to seek pleasure in the night, to devote oneself to a club scene and its music — is to somehow be less concerned about the more “serious” aspects of everyday life. After all, how can you feasibly go to work tomorrow if you’ve been out until 6 a.m. or later? Ears ringing from pounding dance music. Club stamps still visible on your wrists. Isn’t it better to stay at home, safe in the bosom of domesticity and fully tucked away from the ribald dangers and creatures of the night?

This is, of course, the primary moral argument that has been lodged against nightlife and club cultures since at least the late 19th century because it goes against the very core of modern urban life: productivity. Curfews, cabaret laws, zoning laws, and debates about which types of nightlife establishments can open where and what can be allowed to happen inside of them, how loud music can be played and until when — these are all aspects of nightlife that are controlled by the irrational fear that nightlife is always up to no good.

But this simple moral argument overlooks three key ingredients of nightlife: 1) that global nightlife is a multi-billion dollar industry. To put that number in perspective, in New York City alone nightlife is a billion dollar industry and in places like Berlin, nightlife is one of the main cultural-touristic attractions; 2) that nightworlds are spaces for subcultural aesthetic innovations and experimentation; 3) and finally that through intimacy, dance, and self-styling, nightworlds create unique possibilities for social belonging and connectivity within and across race, class, gender, and sexualities.

This issue seeks to further investigate such particularities and their specific historicity, expanding on the current bibliography that, as much as it forms a canon strongly supported by Bourdieusian and Cultural Studies approaches, can and must profit greatly from a more theoretically diverse perspective. We hope to bring the best of recent work from a range of interdisciplinary fields to bear on music, place, and the global nightlife economy, from Berlin to Angola, thereby deepening our understanding of a cultural phenomenon that garners novel modes of existence throughout the globe.

Full details (including submission information) found here.

JPMS Exclusive: Lisa Jane Persky on Lou Reed

(Editor’s Note: We originally approached Lisa Jane Persky to write a memoriam piece about Lou Reed that was to run in Issue 26.1. That wasn’t able to happen but she was generous enough to initially allow us to run the piece on our website and that eventually evolved to what is above (in video form and below as an essay): a gorgeous, elegiac ode to not just Reed but the New York City of his and Persky’s youth. We’d like to thank Persky for all her work and we welcome our JPMS readers to take some time to listen/read and share. –O.W.)

Lisa Jane Persky was a founding member of the New York Rocker staff. Her work as journalist, photographer and artist has appeared in Mojo, Q, Uncut, The Los Angeles Times, L.A.Weekly and Fortean Times, among others. She is also a founding editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books. Her fiction has appeared in Bomb and in the anthology Eclectica: Best Fiction. Lisa is also an actor. Currently, she is working on a memoir of growing up in Greenwich Village.

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JPMS Exclusive: 250 Movies That Rock, 1982–2014: An Annotated Filmography


(In an essay exclusive to JPMS Online, Will Clemens lays out a select, annotated filmography of “movies that rock,” in other words, movies that include some engagement/discussion with “rock music.” As Clemens himself makes clear, this is not meant to be either all-encompassing nor definitive but rather, an opening set of remarks. –The Editors)

250 Movies That Rock, 1982–2014: An Annotated Filmography 

Will Clemens, Clark State Community College

In their book Risky Business: Rock in Film, R. Serge Denisoff and William D. Romanowski credit David Ehrenstein and Bill Reed’s Rock on Film as a “particularly helpful” book on the subject of rock music and film (749). Interspersed with black-and-white reprints of rock movie photography and posters, the 296-page Rock on Film is comprised of a table of contents and foreword by Ehrenstein and Reed, an introduction by Michael Sragow, and ten chapters, an appendix, annotated filmography, and index by Ehrenstein and Reed. The filmography is of particular interest here because “250 Movies That Rock, 1982–2014” picks up where Ehrenstein and Reed left off, 1982, as the Rock on Film manuscript went into print.      

Ehrenstein and Reed’s filmography is one of a kind, spanning 169 pages, covering 483 films, listed alphabetically by film title (from ABBA: The Movie to Zachariah). The medium of the book, versus print encyclopedia or journal, allowed for the inclusion of practically all motion pictures that have something important to say about the subject of rock music and film—1955–81. The oldest movie represented in Rock on Film is Richard Brooks’ Blackboard Jungle, released March 19, 1955. Ehrenstein and Reed’s annotation provides a snapshot of the film’s plot, music, and significance:

[Glenn] Ford portrays school teacher “Dadier” who’s unprepared for the caged animals he meets up with at his new assignment at a blighted New York City school. The high school toughs taunt him (they call him “Daddy-O”), and rape and pillage left and right in this grim portrait of the failure of the American educational system. If it weren’t for this film,  you might not be reading this book right now. The bold (for 1955) and successful use of Bill Haley’s recording of “Rock Around the Clock” on the soundtrack made Blackboard Jungle the official first-ever rock and roll movie. (119)

In his The Rock & Roll Film Encyclopedia, John Kenneth Muir acknowledges that Blackboard Jungle has “long carried the distinction of being the world’s first so-called rock ’n’ roll movie” (37). “However,” Muir adds, “this description is somewhat of a misnomer since there is no rock band, no rock music, and no mention at all, in fact, of that ‘devil’s music’ sweeping the land in the body proper of the movie.” “Rock Around the Clock” plays, as if a theme song, over the opening credits (with a chalkboard in the background) on into the opening scene as Richard Dadier arrives at North Manual School to interview for a position as an English teacher. The purpose of such nondiegetic music (i.e., inaudible to the characters in the film but audible to the movie viewing audience) is to increase the psychological drama for the audience. (Jazz songs from Bix Beiderbecke and Stan Kenton play diegetically in the film, i.e., audibly to the characters and audience.) “Rock Around the Clock” plays nondiegetically again over the closing scene, as Dadier finishes a day of work at the school. Accordingly, a precedent is set for Ehrenstein and Reed’s filmography to include not just Blackboard Jungle but any other feature that isn’t directly about rock yet that uses rock music in landmark ways on its soundtrack.
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Welcome to the new JPMS Site

IMG_2761_PPsquareThe Journal of Popular Music Studies now has its own dedicated website. Once we launch the new volume year (beginning with 26.1), we’ll be using this to provide more extensive information to readers and subscribers, includingenhanced content (i.e. audio, visual, etc.) related to essays from each new issue of the journal.

In the meanwhile, you can always access direct copies of the journal via our publisher, Wiley.

Coming up for 2014 we’re looking to streamline the submissions system, expand our book review section and build on the great work of Drs. Karen Tongson and Gus Stadler. Stay tuned!


Gayle Wald & Oliver Wang