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.

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