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Roundtable [clear filter]
Thursday, April 26
 

2:00pm

Roundtable: Doing Digital Wrongly
Jessica L. Robinson, Porshe R. Garner, Ruth Nicole Brown, and Blair E. Smith of band We Levitate
”Doing Digital Wrongly”: On music making praxis through Black Girlhood
Moderator: Michelle Habell-Pallan
 
In the 21st century, hip-hop feminist researchers have been “working to bring the politics of African American girls front and center” (Brown, 2007) in scholarship and community activism (Pough et. al, 2007; Brown, 2009; Brown & Kwayke, 2012; Love, 2012). Black feminists scholars and activists have a long-standing history of utilizing language and literacy in scholarship and with community to develop individual and collective intellectual traditions that work towards disassembling systems of inequality, re-writing and re-imagining Black female experiences, political thought, art (Lorde, 1996; Jordan, 2000; Clifton) collective activism (Combahee River Collective, 1986; Collins, 2000) and self-recovery from daily attacks of racism and sexism (hooks, 1993) Black queer issues (Lorde, 1996; Harris, 1996; Smith, 2000) and transnational politics (Alexander, 2005). This roundtable, presented by members of the girl-band, We Levitate (https://soundcloud.com/solhot-next-level), aims to extend the legacy of Black feminist and/or womanist writers and artists whose ideas, provocations, and testimonies provided a solid foundation from which to theorize, practice, and make art and in the case of We Levitate make music. This roundtable explores our concept of “doing digital wrongly” as a music making process rooted in Saving Our Lives Hear Our Truths (SOLHOT), a collective space of organizing with Black girls to celebrate Black girlhood. Doing digital wrongly interrogates (1) the resources needed to make music in community with one another based on structural limitations and emotional necessity, (2) artistry as produced without a form and invested in embracing those sounds which are deemed as “alien” based on ideas of “good music”, as well as (3) a dedication to insist on and persist in making political sonics by intensely co-laboring and producing an collective emotive capacity unattached to binary gender schemas.
Guided by an investment in Black feminist and womanist theories and practices, we demonstrate the usefulness and nonuse of a sonic ritualized creative practice that allows us to critique ourselves and structural conditions as well as theorize concepts such as power, gender and form, in relation to doing collective work with Black girls, based on how sounds arrived to us and what we brought to it. To explore our work together, this roundtable will feature demonstrations of sonic creations by each member as well as a conversation with each member on artist-practice and political investment in sonic creativity as experienced through our practice of organizing through Black girlhood.

Speakers
avatar for Ruth Nicole Brown

Ruth Nicole Brown

Ruth Nicole Brown is an associate professor in Gender and Women’s Studies and Education Policy, Organization and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research documents, analyzes, and interrogates Black girls’ lived experience and explores the gender... Read More →
PR

Porshe R. Garner

Porshé R. Garner is a doctoral candidate in Education Policy Organization and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her work investigates and analyzes alternative forms of power and how it manifest in the intergenerational space of the collective Saving Our... Read More →
avatar for Jessica L. Robinson

Jessica L. Robinson

Jessica L. Robinson is a doctoral student in Media and Cinema Studies (Institute for Communications Research) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her work, done in community with the SOLHOT collective, focuses on the politics and poetics of the life-making/saving practices... Read More →
BE

Blair E. Smith

Blair Ebony Smith is a doctoral candidate in Cultural Foundations of Education at Syracuse University. Her artistic and scholarly work with creative and collective organizing with Saving Our Lives, Hear Our Truths, practice based, publicly engaged, collectively organized space to... Read More →


Thursday April 26, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Sky Church
 
Friday, April 27
 

11:15am

Roundtable: Making American Sabor
Jasen Emmons, Marisol Berrios-Miranda, Shannon Dudley, Michelle Habell-Pallán, and Dwandolyn R. Reese
Moderator: Larin McLaughlin
Making American Sabor: Latinos and Latinas in US Popular Music / Latinos y latinas en la musica popular estadounidense
 
The American Sabor exhibit is the result of a long-term partnership between MoPOP, the University of Washington, and the Smithsonian Institution’s Traveling Exhibition Service. The three worked together to create an exhibit greater than sum of its parts. As it communicated scholarly research in a popular voice, the exhibit experimented with multiple media and multiple platforms to allow the dynamics of sound to drive its audio, visual and print storytelling, and to infuse a feminista perspective on music as a process where gender norms are reproduced, challenged, and transformed. Over a period of eight years, 1,000,000 people viewed and listened to the exhibit. For many, it was the first opportunity to learn about the history of the subject.
This roundtable launches the newly published bilingual print book version of American Sabor (University of Washington Press). Featuring a dialogue with those directly involved with the making of the exhibit and book including MoPop’s Director of Curatorial Affairs Jasen Emmons, UW faculty Marisol Berrios-Miranda, Shannon Dudley, Michelle Habell-Pallán, and former senior Project Director at the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service Evelyn Figueroa, our conversation will share best practices regarding the challenges and opportunities of collaborating on a project of this scope. Dwandolyn R. Reese, Curator of Music and Performing Arts at Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, will reflect on the exhibit’s impact. Together we explore the collective motivations and methodologies used to decide on American Sabor’s voice and perspective, the selection of stories and objects, and the media forms delivering its stories.
Like the exhibit, the book version of American Sabor evokes the pleasures of music as well as food, the word sabor signifies a rich essence that makes our mouths water or makes our bodies want to move. American Sabor traces the substantial musical contributions of Latinas and Latinos in American popular music between World War II and the present in five vibrant centers of Latin@ musical production: New York, Los Angeles, San Antonio, San Francisco, and Miami. From Tito Puente's mambo dance rhythms to the Spanglish rap of Mellow Man Ace, American Sabor focuses on musical styles that have developed largely in the United States-including jazz, rhythm and blues, rock, punk, hip hop, country, Tejano, and salsa-but also shows the many ways in which Latin@ musicians and styles connect US culture to the culture of the broader Americas.
The scope of American Sabor required all involved in its making to learn through dialogue, both oral and written, between people from diverse backgrounds and experiences. It began with vigorous debate among Marisol, Shannon, and Michelle in which we shared our diverse disciplinary perspectives and methods from ethnomusicology, cultural studies, Chicanx feminist theory, and performance. As our conversations extended to collaboration with a vast circle of senior curators, scholars, artists, and activists, and senior press editors, we were impressed with the way that knowledge is produced through relationships, and realized that it cannot be separated from the form and context in which it is communicated.  

Speakers
MB

Marisol Berrios-Miranda

Marisol Berríos-Miranda is the author of numerous articles on salsa and Puerto Rican musical culture. She’s the co-author of American Sabor: Latinos and   Latinas in US Popular Music and co-curator of the exhibit of the same name.Berríos Miranda is affiliate professor of ethnomusicology... Read More →
SD

Shannon Dudley

Shannon Dudley is Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology at the University of Washington, author of Carnival Music in Trinidad (Oxford University Press 2004), Music From Behind the Bridge (Oxford 2008), and numerous articles about Caribbean music.  He is co-curator/author of the... Read More →
JE

Jasen Emmons

Jasen Emmons is the Director of Curatorial Affairs at MoPoP Museum, overseeing the Curatorial, Collections, Exhibits, and Education departments and championing Pop Conference every year. In his spare time, he occasionally gets to curate pop culture exhibits like Fantasy: Worlds of... Read More →
LM

Larin McLaughlin

Larin McLaughlin is Editor in Chief at University of Washington Press, where she acquires books in American studies, critical ethnic studies, women's, gender, and sexuality studies, and visual culture. A UW alum, she returned to Seattle in 2014 after working as a Senior Acquisitions... Read More →
DR

Dwandolyn R. Reese

Dwandalyn R. Reece is Curator of Music and Performing Arts at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and curated museum’s permanent exhibition, Musical Crossroads for which she received the Secretary’s Research Prize in 2017.  Reece... Read More →


Friday April 27, 2018 11:15am - 12:45pm
Sky Church

1:45pm

Roundtable: Soft and Stormy, From the '70s-'90s
Ann Powers, Emily Gale, Rashod Ollison, Karen Tongson, and Jason King
 
Soft and Stormy: Gender, Race & Genre from the 70s-90s
This roundtable explores the confluences and divergences between two genres that ruled the radio starting in the 1970s: soft rock and quiet storm. Both are aspirational and adult, distinguished in many respects by their renewed fantasies of financial security and upward mobility. Each genre provided distinct soundtracks for mature explorations of sensuality, love and other sensations both sexy and serene. Whereas soft rock is associated with white suburbanites who gently moved on from its avuncular precursor, easy listening, quiet storm emerged in the 1970s a sophisticated new genre for a rising black, urban bourgeoisie. Individually, we briefly track some key examples from the 1970s onward, before launching into an extended conversation with one another—and the audience—about all things soft and stormy.
Ann Powers will kick us off with Kris Kristoferson’s crossover moment in the 1970s, in order to mark the intersection of country and soft rock, Nashville and Hollywood. Emily Gale follows with another look at the blue-eyed soul of Hall and Oates, and how their performance of emotional vulnerability provides an opportunity to reflect on the relationship between soft rock, masculinity, and race in the 70s.  Rashod Ollison then limns the boundaries between soft rock and quiet storm during their mutual peak in the 70s and early 80s, offering some context for their appeal to the lifestyle aspirations of boomer sophisticates. Karen Tongson exhumes Karen Carpenter’s eponymously titled solo album (recorded in 1979, but not released until 1996 after she died), to explore its curious flirtations with quiet storm—one of her rare efforts to break free from the Carpenters’ finely calibrated whiteness. Finally, Jason King brings us into the 80s and 90s, to show how Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds’ affection for acoustic guitar driven soft rock, distinguished his own approach to 80s and 90s smooth R&B.


Speakers
avatar for Emily Gale

Emily Gale

Emily Gale is a lecturer at UC Merced. Her book project, Sentimental Songs for Sentimental People, explores intersections between American popular song and sentimentalism. Her article on citizenship, sentimentality, and settler colonialism in Canadian composer Calixa Lavallée’s... Read More →
avatar for Jason King

Jason King

Jason King, Ph.D is Associate Professor and the founding faculty member at New York University's Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. A journalist, musician, DJ and producer, he worked alongside music impresario Clive Davis to help build and develop the program and he served as... Read More →
avatar for Rashod Ollison

Rashod Ollison

Rashod Ollison is an award-winning culture critic and a native of Little Rock, Arkansas. He earned a BA in journalism and creative writing from the University of Arkansas and has been a staff critic for the Dallas Morning News, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Journal News in Westchester... Read More →
avatar for Ann Powers

Ann Powers

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. She is the author of Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music (2017). Powers also... Read More →
avatar for Karen Tongson

Karen Tongson

Karen Tongson is Associate Professor of English and Gender Studies at University of Southern California, and the author of Relocations: Queer Suburban Imaginaries (NYU Press). Her work has appeared in numerous venues in print and online. She has a forthcoming book with ForEdge Press... Read More →


Friday April 27, 2018 1:45pm - 3:15pm
JBL Theater MoPOP, 325 5th Avenue N, Seattle, WA 98109

5:45pm

Roundtable: The Butch Throat
Taylor Black, E Glasberg, Sarah Kessler, Mairead Sullivan
 
“The Butch Throat” 
            This roundtable on “The Butch Throat” begins in unashamed appreciation for Wayne Koestenbaum’s 1993 The Queen’s Throat, a book so full of strange insight and recondite lore on vocal training, voice, gender, sexuality, and race that its very diva-like boldness of its central claim: that “[v]oice is a system equal to sexuality…” (155); “sexuality is structurally vocal” (172) has nearly smothered out its possible refrains. Perhaps too easily dismissed because of its experiential specificity and campy object, opera, its obsessions of a stereotypic gay male fan, The Queen’s Throat (if not Koestenbaum) might well be rolling its eyes these days in mock surrender: ok, ok, let’s be really straight and earnest about voice and sexual identity. In following Koestenbaum’s critique of “voice culture’s … training and liberating of the natural voice,” we don’t want to be sociologically correct in describing – or elegizing -- yet another voice or identity category. Rather, we want to emphasize the butch throat as a passageway through which we plan to force new air to think of new voices and bodies -- beginning but not trilling -- on the note of butch.
            Panelists will discuss the butch throat in relation to region, class, and race (voice placement), as species (posthuman categorization), mimicry (taking on Female Masculinity and its origin story). The panel will offer new ways to engage mind-body split, transgender bodies, inter-species, bodiless bodies, disabled bodies and cracked voices, extending the conversation from opera and its gay male subjects and communities into other throwback or devolutionary species such as Amy Ray’s “southern gar” (a garbling of girl) and the British-Caribbean contrary contralto Joan Armatrading, and interspecies voicing, and to investigate the butch throat as a site for sexual difference and the re- and dis-embodying of butch sexual practices.
            Voice production is an area rich for testing out gender and sexuality rules. Training the voice is ineluctably unnatural and subject to shifting taste and structural regimes. Yet as intense and rare and stringent as proper voice training is, its results are the basis for normalizing the strict gendering of voice categories: an alto is never a tenor, for example, though their note range may overlap; their coloring and pitch and tone may never. The training of gendered voices enhances and naturalizes social gender categories. And yet, that very artificial training would as easily contribute to the dismantling of the gendered voice. It does, in fact, on stage, from falsetto and trouser roles; in history with castratos, modern counter tenors, as well as a host of pop voice categories. Voice, for all its uses as sexuality’s “tell” is potentially anarchic – thus, as with sexuality, the overly-stringent management of voice. Thus, the endless and yet disavowed training of the most malleable sexual organ, the throat.


Speakers
TB

Taylor Black

Taylor Black is Assistant Professor of English at Duke University.  He has published on twentieth century American literature, popular music, gender and sexuality studies, queer theory, ontology and theories of becoming and, above all, the subject and practices of style in Women’s... Read More →
EG

E Glasberg

E Glasberg writes about US culture in transit and has taught at American University in Beirut, Princeton University, Duke University, and California State University, Los Angeles. Author of Antarctica As Cultural Critique: The Gendered Politics of Scientific Exploration and Climate... Read More →
avatar for Sarah Kessler

Sarah Kessler

Sarah Kessler is a media scholar and television critic. Her book project, Anachronism Effects, focuses on ventriloquism in transatlantic popular culture. Her writing has appeared in the Brooklyn Rail, Camera Obscura, In These Times, Public Books, Triple Canopy, and Women’s Studies... Read More →
avatar for Mairead Sullivan

Mairead Sullivan

Mairead Sullivan is Assistant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Loyola Marymount University. Sullivan has published in Women’s Studies Quarterly, Feminist Formations, Catalyst: Feminism, Theory and Technoscience, The Journal of Lesbian Studies, and The Journal of Homosexuality... Read More →


Friday April 27, 2018 5:45pm - 7:15pm
Sky Church
 
Saturday, April 28
 

11:15am

Roundtable: Women as Catalysts
Daphne Brooks, Ann Powers, Alexandra Vazquez, and Gayle Wald
Women as Catalysts
            In his definitive rock-critical book Mystery Train, Greil Marcus described the moment in which rock and roll, an amorphous stirring in the wind of black, white, and Latina/o/x American popular music, pinned itself down within the body of the southern white male. “Rockabilly fixed the crucial image of rock and roll: the sexy, half-crazed fool standing on stage singing his guts out.” Marcus identifies rockabilly as the birthing ground of rock ‘n’ roll because it was also a battleground: the space where white performers, the designated subjects of a segregated and hierarchical popular music industry, could “beat the black man at his own game.” In 1982, Marcus was simply noting the binary divide that had already come to define rock and roll: the violating love white music fans felt for black culture played off against the efforts of black male artists to reclaim that culture, whether through assimilating (beating the white man at his own game), separating or riding black pride into powerful acts of rebellion.
            Yet this binary, masculinized view of rock and roll history, reinforced on every level from the Billboard charts to the touring and recording  industries to the media outlets that arose to turn a musical subculture into a countercultural lifestyle, reduces and distorts the full view of popular music’s evolution in the rock and soul era. Simply place another body at the center of the fixed image and the entire story changes. That body might be Ruth Brown’s, dismantling convention the way a woman would by shouting, “Mama! He treats your daughter mean,” or Brenda Lee, who at eight years old busted out dance moves as wild as anything Elvis managed when he was almost no longer a teenager. There is a way to document and elucidate the rock and roll revolution that does not consider women an extraneous element within a dialogue between men, but which examines how women’s pivotal innovations and interventions shaped a broader music culture than the one rock history -- and, in many ways, rock criticism -- ever fully acknowledged.
            This collaborative multimedia presentations staged by four scholars who have spent their lives shedding light on women’s central presence in popular music culture will shift the epistemological paradigm by recognizing and celebrating a history in which women are the catalysts, not merely extra players, overlooked geniuses or singular exceptions. Disturbing the conventional format of 20 min papers, our session  is an ensemble effort with presenters taking turns to offer critical revisionist meditations on canonical moments in rock/pop history as well as snapshots of radical moments left out of the books that expand or trouble our notions of that history as well as how that history has been written about and reproduced.

Speakers
DA

Daphne A. Brooks

Daphne A. Brooks is the author of Bodies in Dissent: Spectacular Performances of Race and Freedom, 1850-1910 (Durham, NC: Duke UP), winner of The Errol Hill Award for Outstanding Scholarship on African American Performance from ASTR and Jeff Buckley’s Grace (New York: Continuum... Read More →
avatar for Ann Powers

Ann Powers

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. She is the author of Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music (2017). Powers also... Read More →
AT

Alexandra T. Vazquez

Alexandra T. Vazquez is Associate Professor in the Department of Performance Studies at New York University. Her book, Listening in Detail: Performances of Cuban Music (Duke University Press 2013), won the American Studies Association’s Lora Romero Book Prize. Vazquez’s work... Read More →
avatar for Gayle Wald

Gayle Wald

Gayle Wald teaches at George Washington University, where she presently chairs the American Studies department. Her books include Shout, Sister, Shout! (Beacon Press, 2007) and It’s Been Beautiful: Soul! and Black Power Television (Duke University Press, 2015). Outside the academy... Read More →


Saturday April 28, 2018 11:15am - 12:45pm
Sky Church

1:45pm

Roundtable: Recognizing Black Women's Complexities
Regina N. Bradley, Timothy Anne Burnside, and Bettina Judd  
 
Like a Moth to a Flame Burned by the Fire: 
Recognizing Black Women’s Complexities in Popular Music  
Janet Jackson’s 1993 sultry remake of the song “That’s the Way Love Goes” opens with the line “Like a moth to a flame burned by the fire.” While Jackson is talking about the ups and downs of how love manifests itself, the imagery of the moth being burned by a flame also applies to how Black women attempt to view and position themselves in American society. Of particular interest is how Black women hold a peculiar space in popular culture: their bodies and cultural expressions are emulated, their style duplicated, but no room is made to recognize their agency. They are, in essence, burned by the very flame that they are attempting to master. The imposed expectations and biases placed upon black women about how to perform race, (hyper)sexuality, and class –in all senses of the word – also impact their autonomy.  Black women’s search for space in memory, in culture, and in themselves is especially significant in popular music.

Our 90 minute roundtable is a discussion of how to recognize, interpret, and preserve the various threads of Black womanhood found in popular music. We are interested in not only how black women musicians create and package their narratives but also the frameworks and archives that are used to interpret their meanings and experiences. Specifically, we seek to redefine the touchstones of legible and illegible black womanhood as signifiers of a black (American) experience.


Speakers
avatar for Regina N. Bradley

Regina N. Bradley

Regina N. Bradley is Assistant Professor of English and African Diaspora Studies at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, GA. She writes about race and sound, hip-hop, and the post-Civil Rights Black American South. Her first book, Chronicling Stankonia: OutKast and the Rise of the... Read More →
avatar for Timothy Anne Burnside

Timothy Anne Burnside

Timothy Anne Burnside is a Museum Specialist in Curatorial Affairs at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). She works closely with object donors to build collections around music & performing arts and contemporary cultural... Read More →
avatar for Bettina Judd

Bettina Judd

Bettina Judd is an interdisciplinary writer, artist and performer whose research focus is on Black women's creative production and our use of visual art, literature, and music to develop feminist thought. Her current book manuscript argues that Black women’s creative production... Read More →


Saturday April 28, 2018 1:45pm - 3:15pm
Sky Church

3:30pm

Roundtable: Critical Karaoke, Sex and the Singles Girl
Critical Karaoke, Sex and the Singles Girl
Presenter order for this presentation will be random.
It couldn’t be more simple: I am proposing a Critical Karaoke “roundtable” titled "Sex and the Singles Girl.” The participants, to be chosen as the conference approaches and in consultation with the program committee (as this generally draws from those already presenting), will each present on one pop single that takes up the questions of sex and/or gender, with a particular interest in femme/queer experience. My hope is that these presentations can go beyond the polarities of empowerment and disrespect that have characterized the majority of accounts of gender in pop, with the goal of understanding the ways that sex and gender relations are constitutive of the category of the pop single; the implicit historical argument is that the pop single couldn’t exist without the uneven sex and gender dynamics that we might wish to overcome. But that is just sort of my initial hypothesis, not something to which all presenters would be held. I hope also that a breadth of genres can be included. I think 8 panelists is a good number. I myself may well simply help organize, to leave more room for many critics and scholars who have made sex and gender an ongoing priority in their work. The end.
Moderator: Joshua Clover

Speakers
avatar for Regina N. Bradley

Regina N. Bradley

Regina N. Bradley is Assistant Professor of English and African Diaspora Studies at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, GA. She writes about race and sound, hip-hop, and the post-Civil Rights Black American South. Her first book, Chronicling Stankonia: OutKast and the Rise of the... Read More →
avatar for Joshua Clover

Joshua Clover

Joshua Clover is author of six books including poetry, cultural history, and political theory; he’s been translated into a dozen languages. His most recent book is Riot.Strike.Riot: The New Era of Uprisings (Verso 2016), a political economy of insurrection and renarration of capital’s... Read More →
RJ

Robin James

Robin James is associate professor of philosophy at UNC Charlotte. She is author of Resilience & Melancholy (Zer0) and The Sonic Episteme (forthcoming with Duke University Press). Her writing has appeared in places like The New Inquiry, SoundingOut!, Noisey, Real Life, and The Journal... Read More →
avatar for Sarah Kessler

Sarah Kessler

Sarah Kessler is a media scholar and television critic. Her book project, Anachronism Effects, focuses on ventriloquism in transatlantic popular culture. Her writing has appeared in the Brooklyn Rail, Camera Obscura, In These Times, Public Books, Triple Canopy, and Women’s Studies... Read More →
avatar for Rashod Ollison

Rashod Ollison

Rashod Ollison is an award-winning culture critic and a native of Little Rock, Arkansas. He earned a BA in journalism and creative writing from the University of Arkansas and has been a staff critic for the Dallas Morning News, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Journal News in Westchester... Read More →
JP

Jenn Pelly

Jenn Pelly is a Contributing Editor at Pitchfork and author of The Raincoats, a volume in the 33 ⅓ series on the British feminist punk band. Her writing has appeared in Rolling Stone, SPIN, The Wire, The Village Voice, and Teen Vogue. She lives in New York."In the Sea of Possibility... Read More →
avatar for Ann Powers

Ann Powers

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. She is the author of Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music (2017). Powers also... Read More →
OW

Oliver Wang

Oliver Wang is a professor of sociology at California State University, Long Beach and author of Legions of Boom: Filipino American Mobile DJ Crews of the San Francisco Bay Area. He writes on arts and culture for NPR, KCET’s Artbound, KPCC’s Take Two and other outlets. He is... Read More →


Saturday April 28, 2018 3:30pm - 5:30pm
Sky Church

5:45pm

Roundtable: Suburban Intersections
Moderator: Karen Tongson 
Anthony Easton, Josh Langhoff, and Annie Zaleski 
 
Suburban Intersections: Back Roads, Plazas, and Love Shacks
Ever since Americans saw those aerial photographs of Levittown, the first mass-produced suburb, the image of the suburbs has been clean, white, homogenized, and patriarchal. This image is intentional. Developers purposely built away from cities, on land considered empty, and over the decades the suburbs have become associated with discriminatory practices like redlining, breakdowns in public infrastructure like bussing into the cities, and, most recently, homeowners’ associations (often violently) enforcing normative codes of gender and sexuality. None of this should be ignored in favour of a revisionist pro-suburban view. But recent scholarship has attempted to reconcile queer, working class, or non-white stories to the suburbs, deepening our understanding of this unique space. For example, Karen Tongson’s 2011 Relocations: Queer Suburban Imaginaries rediscovered the suburbs as a space for popular music to breed ideas about gender.
In three case studies, this panel will explore more potentials for gendered readings of the suburban. In these readings, gender can serve to interpret other identities, and these intersections of gender with other identities interrupt conventional ideas of geography -- as when Sam Hunt models working class masculinity by selling the idea of “back roads” to audiences who drive parkways and avenues, or when young Latino idols transform rural northern Mexican styles into slick pop crooning for second and third-generation Americans. In late-’70s Georgia, Athens musicians founded an underground scene that incorporated queer semiotics and a refusal of mainstream masculinity; a decade later, their music would help define the lives of suburban pop and rock fans.
Each of these scenes trades on a strong geographical component and a deep commitment to understanding shifting audience tastes. In country music, crises of masculinity and disappearing rurality work in anxious conjunction, as the spaces of exurb, suburb, and farm remain undecided, and new categories of butch performativity emerge. Recent teen and 20-something Latino stars like Christian Nodal, Luis Coronel, and Ulices Chaidez delineate a spectrum of masculinities through shifts in vocal style, melodic construction, instrumentation, and video iconography, situating themselves somewhere between old-school corrideros and boy band pinups. Similarly, after college towns became places of queer refuge, their icons -- especially R.E.M. and the B-52’s -- resonated with straight listeners in places like Levittown, a self-repeating system that complicated how adolescent fans perceived gradations of gender.
Our end goals are to posit gender as a set of performative lenses that put other issues of identity into social contexts, and to consider how those contexts fit into the land of the suburban imaginary.
Short presentations will be followed by general discussion and Q&A.

Speakers
avatar for Anthony Easton

Anthony Easton

Anthony Easton is a writer and artist from Hamilton, Ontario. They have been writing about country music for more than fifteen years. They have written for Spin, the Atlantic Online, Pitchfork, Nashville Scene and a number of other publications. They have shown in Edmonton, Toronto... Read More →
avatar for Josh Langhoff

Josh Langhoff

Josh Langhoff is a church musician in the Chicago area, and the founder of NorteñoBlog, a mostly English-language website devoted to Mexican regional music. He has written about norteño music for the Village Voice, Pitchfork, the Minneapolis City Pages, the Cresset, and the Singles... Read More →
avatar for Karen Tongson

Karen Tongson

Karen Tongson is Associate Professor of English and Gender Studies at University of Southern California, and the author of Relocations: Queer Suburban Imaginaries (NYU Press). Her work has appeared in numerous venues in print and online. She has a forthcoming book with ForEdge Press... Read More →
avatar for Annie Zaleski

Annie Zaleski

Annie Zaleski is a freelance journalist, editor and critic based in Cleveland, Ohio. Previously, she was on staff as an editor at the Riverfront Times and Alternative Press; currently, she’s a contributing writer at The A.V. Club and a columnist at Salon. Her profiles, interviews... Read More →


Saturday April 28, 2018 5:45pm - 7:15pm
Sky Church