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Francesca Royster

Francesca Royster is Professor of English at DePaul University. Her research interests include African American literature, popular music, performance, Race, gender and sexuality, as well as Creative-nonfiction. She is the author of Becoming Cleopatra: The Shifting Image of an Icon (Palgrave, 2003) and Sounding Like a No-No: Queer Sounds and Eccentric Acts in the Post-Soul Era. (University of Michigan, 2013). She is currently working on a book project on African American Country Music Performance and Fans and a memoir on Adoption, Queer and Chosen Family.

"‘BabyCould I love you tonight’: Tracy Chapman and Butch recognitionlonging and Belonging in the Neo-Soul moment"
In my talk I’ll ask to what extent soft and stone butch masculine performances are legible within popular soul and neo-soul aesthetics. In particular, I’ll consider the ways that the open secret of Tracy Chapman sexuality has traveled both inside and outside of 1990’s queer subcultures, and it’s stakes for her sound, image and political engagement. How might Chapman’s positionality to the neo-soul movement as both outside and adjacent, shape the ways we hear and remember gender performance in this moment?