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Pop Conference

A melting pot for fans, musicians, scholars, and journalists.

  1. Pop Conference presenters Emily Lordi (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) and Aimee Cox (Fordham University) participate in a discussion focused on Beyoncé’s career and impact on contemporary female musicians in “Queen Bey and Her Court: A Critical Roundtable.” Other feminist cultural critics participated in the discussion, including Rachel Kaadzi Gansah, Daphne Brooks, Ann Powers, and facilitator Salamishah Tillet.

    Photo courtesy EMP staff.

  2. NPR Music critic and correspondent Ann Powers (pictured right) moderates the 2014 Pop Conference keynote discussion, “You Gotta Move: Artists Talk About Life on the Road and Music in Motion.” Held in EMP’s Sky Church, the conversation featured (L to R) Mike McCready, one of the founding members of Pearl Jam; Alynda Lee Segarra, front woman of Hurray For The Riff Raff; bassist and prolific songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello; and soul singer Sharon Jones.

    Photo courtesy EMP staff.

  3. 2014 EMP Pop Conference attendees fill the seats of EMP’s JBL Theater to experience one of the weekend’s over 35 sessions. The annual conference returned to Seattle in 2014 after three years roaming, with the conference taking place at UCLA (Los Angeles, CA) in 2011; NYU (New York, NY) in 2012; and five different venues in 2013, including EMP Museum, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum (Cleveland, OH); USC (Los Angeles, CA), Tulane University (New Orleans, LA), and NYU.

    Photo courtesy EMP staff. 

The annual EMP Pop Conference, first held in 2002, mixes together ambitious music writing of every kind, in an attempt to bring academics, critics, musicians, and dedicated fans into a collective conversation.

Get Ur Freak On: Music, Weirdness, and Transgression
2015 EMP Pop Conference
April 16–19, 2015; EMP Museum

Exploding conventions has long put the bomp in pop: the uncontainable desire of those deemed sexually unnatural, racial impostors, gender outlaws, obsessed fans, willful bohemians, or just plain weird. This year’s EMP Pop Conference offers more than 125 presentations exploring the subject of music and transgression. Subjects range from panels on heavy metal and the underground rock legend Lou Reed to a roundtable on hip-hop and R&B pioneer Missy Elliott, whose “Get Ur Freak On” gives us our title and a session of talks on Aggro Asian Pop.

The conference begins Thursday night, April 16, with a conversation about pop and transgression featuring many notables from journalism and academia, including Ann Powers, Carl Wilson, and Jody Rosen. A range of panels fill up Friday and Saturday and conclude Sunday morning, with topics that include:  the recently departed Rod McKuen and Kim Fowley, “Joni Mitchell’s Pimp Game,” the erotics of Aretha Franklin (including a talk by her biographer, David Ritz), clowning Ella Fitzgerald and revisionist Billie Holiday, Jimmie Rodgers in Kenya, and a roundtable attempt to designate the worst song of all time. As always with the Pop Conference, the range of presenters is as important as the subject matter: critics for the likes of NPR, Slate, and Billboard in dialogue with academics and musicians.

For a full listing of presenters and panels, click on the links on this page.

Conference attendance is free, but space is limited, so those seeking to attend are strongly encouraged to register in advance. Registration will open soon. Information about hotels and other local arrangements can also be found on this page. Questions? Email PopConference@EMPmuseum.org.

2015 Conference Information

  • Thursday, 7:00pm–8:45pm

    Keynote Panel: Can Pop Really Be Transgressive? Poptimism and Its Discontents

    Since the EMP Pop Conference began in 2002, it’s been connected to “poptimism”: celebrating the stylistic and demographic diversity of best-selling industry fodder. This started as a playful reaction to “rockism” and similar emphases—in hip-hop, jazz, Americana, and other genres—on great artists, surging undergrounds, and rebel genres. Many academics, too, have made mainstream music an object of study.

    But it’s time to challenge poptimism’s assumptions and limitations. What does a focus on commercially dominant hits imply toward musically innovative, socially transgressive, or politically provocative artists who are unlikely to achieve, and may not seek, mainstream success on the same scale—or toward the audiences and subcultures they serve? Has our increased awareness that “taste” is never universal or innocent inhibited the expression of dissenting critical judgments?

    Topics will include:

    • Poptimism, the marketplace, and aesthetics: To what extent is poptimism a manufactured, sanctioned perspective, shaped by the collapsing/restructuring of the recording and publishing industries? How should criticism work against listicles and click fodder? Can poptimists attack settled taste without repeating rockism?
    • Poptimism, identity, and politics: Poptimism originated to make room for women and people of color within discourses that privileged white men. Does a focus on the mainstream exclude those whose identities challenge social norms? Are diverse voices central as writers within these debates? If embracing the personal as political illuminates different pop publics, what of activism, protest, and resistance?
    • Poptimism in the present and past: Today, embracing the shiny, supposedly superficial, and accessible doesn't feel so novel. If poptimism “won,” might our reclamation of people and sounds once easily dismissed—feminine and queer, nonwhite, European or Latin, young—confront pop's conservatism? What insights derive from recent books and articles examining pop’s long, complicated history?

    Event Venue

    TBA

    Featuring

    MODERATORS:
    Ann Powers
    Eric Weisbard

    PANELISTS:
    Franklin Bruno
    Maura Johnston
    Jason King
    Jody Rosen
    Julianne Escobedo Shepherd
    Karen Tongson
    Oliver Wang
    Carl Wilson

  • Friday, 8:00am, Breakfast and Registration
  • Friday, 9:00am–11:00am

    Insider Outsiders

    Robert Christgau, “Infectious Clowning: Huey Smith’s Rollicking Heyday and Long Sad Struggle to Get Paid”
    Andy Zax, “'Gee, It's Nice To Be Alone': How Rod McKuen Became America's Best-Known—And Least-Understood!—Outsider Artist”
    Evelyn McDonnell, “‘The Hustle Never Stops’: The Survival of Kim Fowley”
    Devon Maloney, “Multimillionaire Pop Stars, They’re Just Like Us: Taylor Swift and the Performance of Normalcy”

    Event Venue

    JBL Theater

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Oliver Wang

    PANELISTS:
    Robert Christgau
    Devon Maloney
    Evelyn McDonnell
    Andy Zax

    Punky Good Times

    Paula Mejia, “Stay Sick: ‘Psychobilly’ and the Tenuous Relationship Between Disability and Mercurial Performance”
    Karl Hagstrom Miller, “Punk Was the Return of Tin Pan Alley”
    Tobias Carroll, “How Breakfast Violence Gave Hardcore Back a Sense of Humor”
    Ben Neill, “Keeping It Ill: Experimentalism in the 1990s Downtown NYC Electronic Music Scene”

    Event Venue

    Learning Labs

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Chris Estey

    PANELISTS:
    Tobias Carroll
    Paula Mejia
    Karl Hagstrom Miller
    Ben Neill

    Black On a Different Path

    La Marr Jurelle Bruce, “‘Out My Mind, Just In Time’: Black Genius, Madness, and Belated Art”
    Ethan Philbrick, “Resonant Militancy: The Music of Julius Eastman"
    Lia Bascomb, “Freakifying the Spectacle Space: Janelle Monae’s Remix of Royalty”

    Event Venue

    Gallery Room

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Emily Lordi

    PANELISTS:
    Lia Bascomb
    La Marr Jurelle Bruce
    Ethan Philbrick

    Women and Performative License

    Lori L. Brooks, “‘It Takes Two to Tango’: Pearl Bailey’s Comic Perversion of the Vocal Duet”
    Judith Tick, “Ella Fitzgerald, Berlin, 1968: ‘Clowning’ and the Art of Subversive Improvisation”
    J.D. Considine, “Cute and Its Discontents: Kyary Pamyu Pamyu Has Her Kawaii and Eats it, Too”
    Bonnie McConnell, “Ali nga soojaaroo baa neng (‘Let’s Insult the Soldier’s Mother’): Kanyeleng Musicians and Performative License in The Gambia”

    Event Venue

    Demo Lab

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Sonnet Retman

    PANELISTS:
    Lori L. Brooks
    J.D. Considine
    Bonnie McConnell
    Judith Tick

  • Friday, 11:15am-12:45pm

    Work It: A Missy Elliott Roundtable

    Missy Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak On” is the title of this year’s Pop Conference. So it seems particularly appropriate to deconstruct the MC-crooner-producer-songwriter’s two-decades-plus creative output. Elliott rose to mainstream visibility crafting an innovative fusion of hip-hop and soul that helped explode the musical and sonic vocabulary of 21st century pop. Stylizing her body as a canvas, she accompanied her music releases with glammed-out, envelope-pushing videos. Elliott crafted an alternative and transgressive vision of divadom that opened cultural space for successive cohorts of rebellious creatives like M.I.A., Nicki Minaj, and Azealia Banks.

    Event Venue

    JBL Theater

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Jason King

    PANELISTS:
    Patty Ahn
    Jayna Brown
    Aimee Cox
    Jody Rosen
    Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

    From Cock to Rock

    Elijah Wald, “Cocksucker Blues: A Respectful Exploration of Cunnilingus in African American Popular Song”
    Holly George-Warren, “Calamity Jane, Zelda Fitzgerald, and Bessie Smith: Janis Joplin and Her Transgressive Forebears”
    Chris Campion, “Maximum Orgasm: The Unfilmed Transgressions of the Rolling Stones”

    Event Venue

    Learning Labs

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Barry Shank

    PANELISTS:
    Chris Campion
    Holly George-Warren
    Elijah Wald

    Madmen: The Strange Politics of Transnational Technologies

    Karen Tongson, “‘Karaoke Fascism’: From the Marcoses to Hun Sen”
    Nabeel Zuberi, “In Extremism: Vatican Shadow, Media and War/Terrorism”
    Rob Drew, “The Blank Generation: Trans-Atlantic Transgressions of the Cassette in the Early 1980s”

    Event Venue

    Gallery Room

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Karl Hagstrom Miller

    PANELISTS:
    Rob Drew
    Karen Tongson
    Nabeel Zuberi

    Songlines

    Ryan Kailath, “Pimping out the Primitive: The True Story Behind ‘Chemirocha,’ an American Celebrity in Rural Kenya”
    Sofía Córdova, “El Cumbanchero Que Se Vá”
    Jessica Thompson, “But Can You Dance to It? Technological and Aesthetic (In)Correctness in Ata Kak's ‘Obaa Sima’”

    Event Venue

    Demo Lab

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Shannon Dudley

    PANELISTS:
    Sofía Córdova
    Ryan Kailath
    Jessica Thompson

  • Friday, 12:45pm-2:00pm, Break
  • Friday, 2:00pm-4:00pm

    When They Did That

    Franklin Bruno, “‘When You Did That to Me’: Recomposition as Transgression in Billie Holiday’s ‘My Foolish Things’”
    Jack Hamilton, “Reggae and Shout: Doing Over the Beatles in the Jamaican 1960s”
    Michaelangelo Matos, “Sleeping in Between the Two of Us: ‘When You Were Mine’”
    Ann Powers, “Britney Spears as Cyborg”

    Event Venue

    JBL Theater

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Evelyn McDonnell

    PANELISTS:
    Franklin Bruno
    Jack Hamilton
    Michaelangelo Matos
    Ann Powers

    Aggro Asian Remodels

    Charles Aaron, “We Are X: How Japan’s Greatest Rock Band Transformed the Power Ballad with the Huge Screaming Pain Inside Their Hearts”
    Kat Bee, “Insect Woman: Gender, Sex, and Cultural Subversion in the Music of Jun Togawa”
    Hyunjoon Shin and Keewoong Lee, “Japanese Fanatics and Reinvention of Korean Rock”
    Jeff Treviño, “Musical Bullet Hell: Technology and Transgression in Black MIDI”

    Event Venue

    Learning Labs

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Julianne Escobedo Shepard

    PANELISTS:
    Charles Aaron
    Kat Bee
    Keewoong Lee
    Hyunjoon Shin
    Jeff Treviño

    Voicing Transgression

    Ginger Dellenbaugh, “From Earth Angels to Electric Lucifer: Castrati, Little Joe Cook, and the Vocoder”
    John Rockwell, “From Farinelli to Anthony: The Seductive, Disturbing, Sexy, Androgynous Allure of the High Male Voice”
    Chris Estey, “Her Greatest ‘Hits’: The Top Songs of Dominatrixes While They Work”
    Tom Kipp, “From the Old Chisholm Trail to the Nearest Circle K and from Actionable Offenses to Metallic K.O.: Exploring ‘The Filthy Song’ in Recorded Music!”

    Event Venue

    Gallery Room

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Will Hermes

    PANELISTS:
    Ginger Dellenbaugh
    Chris Estey
    Tom Kipp
    John Rockwell

    Towards a Brown Punk Commons

    Christine Bacareza Balance, “Brave New Worlds: The Civil Disobedience of Pinoy Punk”
    L. Shane Greene, “On Rotting Snobs: When Peruvian Punk Ripped Apart”
    Judith Rodriguez, “‘Repulsion, Rather Than Attraction’ in the Boricua Punk Rock Commons”
    Olga Rodrighez, “Ataque Frontal EP: Presenting Peruvian Hardcore in the International Independent Scene”

    Event Venue

    Demo Lab

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Michelle Habell-Pallan

    PANELISTS:
    Christine Bacareza Balance
    L. Shane Greene
    Olga Rodrighez
    Judith Rodriguez

  • Friday, 4:15pm-6:15pm

    The Holy Eroticism of Aretha Franklin

    Emily Lordi, “‘You've Got a Friend’: Aretha Franklin, Donny Hathaway, and the Platonic Erotic"
    David Ritz, “Survival Above All”
    Mark Anthony Neal, “Spirit in the Dark: Aretha Franklin and the Erotic Life of Soul”
    Scott Poulson-Bryant, “Under the Cover(s): The Erotics of the Aretha Remake”

    Event Venue

    JBL Theater

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Rashod Ollison

    PANELISTS:
    Emily Lordi
    Mark Anthony Neal
    Scott Poulson-Bryant
    David Ritz

    Formatics

    Niko Taylor, “Radio Killed the Radio Star”
    Phil Oppenheim, “The Weird at War: DJ Jim Hawthorne Puts the A in AFRTS”
    Josh Ottum, “Listening to the Weather (Channel)”
    Joe Gross, “Doin’ It Clean: The Pleasures of Radio Edits”

    Event Venue

    Learning Labs

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Glenn McDonald

    PANELISTS:
    Joe Gross
    Phil Oppenheim
    Josh Ottum
    Niko Taylor

    Counter-Mimicry

    Roshanak Kheshti, “A Jimi Hendrix Experience: Race, Space, and the Sonic Productions of Black Seattle”
    Barry Shank, “The Enormous Collection: My Father’s 78s”
    RXA Williams,
    Kai Small, “Yoncé, Sasha Fierce, and the (Im)possibilities of Beyoncé’s Black Trans(feminine) Falsetto”

    Event Venue

    Gallery Room

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Shana Redmond

    PANELISTS:
    Roshanak Kheshti
    Barry Shank
    Kai Small
    RXA Williams

    Transgressive Timbres in Improvisation

    Jeff Schwartz, “Freak Sounds: On Extended Technique”
    Dave Chokroun, “Sell Anything, Buy Anything, or Process Anything: Pathetic and Irrecuperable Aesthetics and Practice in Outside Music”
    Charles Sharp, “Hermeneutics of the Honk and Squeal: Saxophones and Limit Experiences”
    Pete Williams, “Jazz Weirdos of Kansas City”

    Event Venue

    Demo Lab

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Travis Stimeling

    PANELISTS:
    Dave Chokroun
    Jeff Schwartz
    Charles Sharp
    Pete Williams

  • Saturday, 8:00am, Breakfast and Registration
  • Saturday, 9:00am-10:30am

    Strange Fruits: At the Borders of Sex, Sound, and Sight

    Salamishah Tillet, “Nobody’s Business: Gender, Privacy, and a History of a Song”
    Josh Kun, “Which Way to the Donkey Show?: A Jukebox of Tijuana Vice”
    Gayle Wald, “Blacknuss and Blindness: Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s Freakish Performance”

    Event Venue

    JBL Theater

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Jody Rosen

    PANELISTS:
    Josh Kun
    Salamishah Tillet
    Gayle Wald

    The Imp of Tradition in 1970s Pop

    Eric Lott, “Joni Mitchell’s Pimp Game”
    Kimberly Mack, “Big Mama Thornton, Esther Phillips, and Oral History’s Transgressions”
    Ivy Wilson, “The Elements; or the Ambient Transnationalism of Earth, Wind, and Fire”

    Event Venue

    Learning Labs

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Gustavus Stadler

    PANELISTS
    Eric Lott
    Kimberly Mack
    Ivy Wilson

    Vortices

    Kyle Barnett and Shawn VanCour, “Eat What You Hear: A Short History of the Gustasonic”
    Charles F. McGovern, “I Want a Lavender Cadillac: Excess, Transgression, and Labor in Black Popular Music, 1940-1970”
    RJ Smith, “‘Let the States Tremble/Let the Nation Weep’: The Word and Wichita”

    Event Venue

    Gallery Room

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Greil Marcus

    PANELISTS:
    Kyle Barnett
    Charles F. McGovern
    RJ Smith
    Shawn VanCour

    Race, Mixed and Memed

    Brittany Spanos, “Drake and the Memeification of Rap Inauthenticity”
    Michael P. Jeffries, “Mixed Rap: How Drake, J Cole, and Logic Perform Mixed Race Identity”
    Jocelyn Brown, “Weird for a Black Girl: Upending Artistic Preconceptions and Changing Indie Culture When the Mainstream Won’t Make Room”

    Event Venue

    Demo Lab

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Jennifer Lena

    PANELISTS:
    Jocelyn Brown
    Michael P. Jeffries
    Brittany Spanos

  • Saturday, 10:45am-12:15pm

    The Worst Song Roundtable

    In the spirit of EMP’s 2015 theme of “perversity,” our panel plans to identify the Worst Song in the World. We will ask participants in the conference to send us their list of “Worst Songs.” Drawing from this corpus and our own contributions we’ll select a small sample of both consensus and limit cases, and prepare to defend and rebut criticisms of each song. We expect what begins as a tour of unlistenable, unsavory, unprecedentedly awful music will transform into a secret search for the wonderful and bizarre and obscure. The presentation will be in a modified debate format, with opportunities for audience participation.

    Event Venue

    JBL Theater

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Jennifer Lena

    PANELISTS:
    Katherine St. Asaph
    Joshua Clover
    Glenn McDonald
    Carl Wilson

    Proto-Punk Explosions

    Lisa Jane Persky, “X-Offenders: A Typical Day in the Life of a Proto-Punk, 1975”
    Kembrew McLeod, “Forget Absurd, It’s Ridiculous! New York’s Downtown Underground Theater Scene Sets the Stage for Punk”
    Ali Colleen Neff, “Mutilating Modernity: Iggy Pop’s Unstable Body and the Political Aesthetics of Punk”

    Event Venue

    Learning Labs

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Christine Bacareza Balance

    PANELISTS:
    Kembrew McLeod
    Ali Colleen Neff
    Lisa Jane Persky

    Mothership Connections

    Rickey Vincent, “The Mothership on Top of the Mountain: George Clinton’s Afro-Futurism and His Mothership Connections
    Melissa A. Weber aka DJ Soul Sister, “A Vanilla Child for All Chocolate Cities”
    Graham Eng-Wilmot, “Bound by the Cosmos: Michael Jackson, Captain EO, and Race in the Late 20th Century”

    Event Venue

    Gallery Room

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Jasen Emmons

    PANELISTS:
    Rickey Vincent
    Graham Eng-Wilmot
    Melissa A. Weber

    Country Music Fringes

    Mark C. Samples, “The Transgressive Aesthetic in the Music of Tom Waits”
    Stephanie Vander Wel, “The Aural Reception of Loretta Lynn’s Defiant Songs”
    Travis D. Stimeling, “Noam Pikelny, Transcription, and Bluegrass Postmodernism”

    Event Venue

    Demo Lab

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Jewly Hight

    PANELISTS:
    Mark C. Samples
    Travis D. Stimeling
    Stephanie Vander Wel

  • Saturday, 12:15pm-1:30pm, Break
  • Saturday, 1:30pm-3:00pm

    New Wave Invasions and Evasions

    Sean Nelson, “Has the World Changed or Have I Changed: Revisiting Morrissey’s Artful Evasions”
    Evie Nagy, “Nerds to the Front: Devo and the Geek Rock Revolution”
    Alfred Soto, “The City is Quiet, Too Cold to Walk Alone: Marc Almond, Jimmy Somerville, Neil Tennant, and Queer Presentation in Eighties England”

    Event Venue

    JBL Theater

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Chris Molanphy

    PANELISTS:
    Evie Nagy
    Sean Nelson
    Alfred Soto

    Difference and Belonging in Southern Music

    David Cantwell, “Just Like Real People: Rock ‘n’ Roll, Country Music, and the Freedom to Be Like Everybody Else”
    Zandria Robinson, “Beyond Dirty: Rap Others in the Grotesque South”
    Charles Hughes, "‘It's Just Different Down Here’: Southern Landscapes and the Othering of Southern Music”

    Event Venue

    Learning Labs

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Carl Wilson

    PANELISTS:
    David Cantwell
    Charles Hughes
    Zandria Robinson

    Critical Transgressions Roundtable

    This informal roundtable discussion will present weird or transgressive critical practices, ways of reading musical texts that self-consciously break with convention. We will collectively discuss a diverse and eccentric array of phenomena—lawn ornaments, “Thriller,” Joni Mitchell’s pimp alter ego, embodied spectatorship—in an effort to decenter critical tropes such as reparative reading, muted critical bodies, music-specific claims, and our own published arguments. Our aim is to unsettle standard methodologies, our own included, and thus to offer new ways of “doing what we’re doing,” to steal and simplify a phrase from Charles Wright’s “Express Yourself.”

    Event Venue

    Gallery Room

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Emily Lordi

    PANELISTS:
    Miles Grier
    Shana Redmond
    Salamishah Tillet

    Legal Limits

    Njelle W. Hamilton, “‘Fly De Gate’: Piracy and the Reggae Aesthetic”
    Nico Rosario, “Breaking the Beat: EDM’s Evolution After the Criminal Justice Bill”
    Dan Booth, “Elonis v. United States: True Threats, Free Speech, and the Hip-Hop Defense”

    Event Venue

    Demo Lab

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Hillary Crosley Coker

    PANELISTS:
    Dan Booth
    Njelle W. Hamilton
    Nico Rosario

  • Saturday, 3:15pm-4:45pm

    Extra Sensory Perception

    Damon Krukowski, “‘Proximity Effect’ (Re: Technology and the Estrangement of the Human in Pop)”
    Katherine Meizel, “Two Voices: d/Deaf Performers Negotiating Singing and Signing”
    Summer Kim Lee, “Video Girl: FKA twigs, Evasive Movement, and the Resonance of Glass”

    Event Venue

    JBL Theater

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Joshua Clover

    PANELISTS:
    Damon Krukowski
    Summer Kim Lee
    Katherine Meizel

    Early Rock Critics

    Lara Langer Cohen, “Teenage Riot: Print Subcultures and the Invention of Adolescence, 1880-1993”
    Richard Goldstein, “Upward Mobility and the Birth of Rock Criticism”
    Carola Dibbell, “Let Us Now Praise Famous Death Dwarves: Revisiting Lester Bangs”

    Event Venue

    Learning Labs

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    John Rockwell

    PANELISTS:
    Lara Langer Cohen
    Carola Dibbell
    Richard Goldstein

    Jesus Freaks Roundtable

    Pop’s unholy marriage of art with commerce often sires music that’s bizarre enough, but when musicians add Jesus to the union, things can start getting really weird. How did the semi popular underground CCM of the ‘70s and ‘80s get swept away by today’s mega popular Praise and Worship music? How did the electric guitar evangelism coming from Southern black churches in the ‘60s influence both the Jesus Freaks and maverick Southern pop/rock artists? And how do the requirements for achieving weirdness change in all these different contexts?

    Event Venue

    Gallery Room

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Josh Langhoff

    PANELISTS:
    Jonathan Bogart
    Anthony Easton
    Jewly Hight
    Kandia Crazy Horse
    Mike McGonigal

    Studio Trickery

    Evan Kindley, “‘Is It Art? Don't Make Me Laugh’: Stan Freberg, Musical Parody, and Midcentury Capitalism”
    Jeremy Braddock, “The Firesign Theatre’s Wax Poetics”
    Kevin Bell, “Redd in the Shed: Performance, Competition, and Influence—Live at Redd’s Place, 1967–70”

    Event Venue

    Demo Lab

    Featuring

    PANELISTS:
    Kevin Bell
    Jeremy Braddock
    Evan Kindley

  • Saturday, 5:00pm-6:30pm

    Rooting Around

    Greil Marcus, “No One Gets the Last Word: On the Travels of Geeshie Wiley's 'Last Kind Words Blues'”
    Sonnet Retman, “Memphis Minnie’s Jukebox Blues”
    Tom Smucker, “Transgression As Cover for Transgression: Vertically Integrated Billionaire Media Heir and Americana Blues-Rocker James Dolan, the Union-Busting Overlord of Hip-Hop Inspired Brooklyn Cable Techs”

    Event Venue

    JBL Theater

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Jack Hamilton

    PANELISTS:
    Greil Marcus
    Sonnet Retman
    Tom Smucker

    A Walk On The Wild Side: Lou Reed's Polymorphous Aesthetic Perversity

    Will Hermes, “The Poetics of Transgression: Lou Reed’s Liminal Button Pushing”
    Jody Beth Rosen, “And Then the Colored Girls, They Walk Over: Lou Reed Works Blue on Live: Take No Prisoners
    Seth Sanders, “The Channel of Distance”

    Event Venue

    Learning Labs

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Sean Nelson

    PANELISTS:
    Will Hermes
    Jody Beth Rosen
    Seth Sanders

    Queering Space for Sound

    Micah Salkind, "‘Damn! Didn’t You Just Edit That?’: Queer Uses of Magnetic Tape in the Development of Chicago House Music”
    Erin MacLeod, “Queering Carnival: Soca and Safe Spaces in Jamaica”
    Jack Curtis Dubowsky, “Martin L. Gore: Race, Queerness, Sexuality, and Popular Music”

    Event Venue

    Demo Lab

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Katherine Meizel

    PANELISTS:
    Jack Curtis Dubowsky
    Erin MacLeod
    Micah Salkind

  • Sunday, 9:00am-10:30am

    Heavy Metal Fantasy

    Buzzy Jackson, “Heavy Metal Fantasy: The Tauren Chieftains”
    Glenn McDonald, “The Satan/Noise Ratio: Oblique Translations of Unintelligible Idioms of Occult Defiance in Epic-Cryptic Metal”
    Stian Vestby, “Corpse Paint and Cowboy Carnivores (sic):The Parallel Emergence of a Norwegian Black Metal Gentry and Homegrown Hillbilly Hipsters”

    Event Venue

    JBL Theater

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Eric Weisbard

    PANELISTS:
    Buzzy Jackson
    Glenn McDonald
    Stian Vestby

    Black Women, Sexual Expression, and Performance in the 20th Century

    K. T. Ewing, “‘If Your Mind’s Dirty, It’s a Dirty Song’: Alberta Hunter, Blues Aesthetics, and Black Sexuality”
    Tyina Steptoe, “‘Big Mama’s Shuffle’: Willie Mae Thornton and Masculine Femininity”
    Melissa “Nubian Sun” Green, “Welcome to Memphis, The Queen Edition: A Genuflection of Memphis Female Rappers of the 1990’s”

    Event Venue

    Learning Labs

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Charles Hughes

    PANELISTS:
    K. T. Ewing
    Melissa “Nubian Sun” Green
    Tyina Steptoe

  • Sunday, 10:45am-12:45pm

    Mainstream Mutations

    Chris Molanphy, “UnLennon–UnMcCartney: Considering the Only Three Beatle Compositions to Hit No. 1 Without Lennon or McCartney”
    Stephen Thomas Erlewine, “Clones (We’re All): Paul McCartney and His Temporary Secretary Looking for Clues in the Fallout of Punk, Disco, and New Wave”
    Keith Harris, “The Mall Gaze: Tiffany’s ‘I Saw Him Standing There’ Looks Back at the Beatles”
    Maura Johnston, “The Buttons and the Pins and the Loud Fanfares: The Adoption of 'Beatles-esque' Elements by Late-80s Pop Outfits”

    Event Venue

    JBL Theater

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    Michealangelo Matos

    PANELISTS:
    Stephen Thomas Erlewine
    Keith Harris
    Maura Johnston
    Chris Molanphy

    Getting Under the Covers with Japanese Pop

    Michael Bourdaghs, “The Strangeness of the Peanuts: Cosmopolitanism and Geopolitics in Mainstream 1960s Japanese Pop”
    Jon Holt, “Transcending Japan’s Gender and Cultural Boundaries with Night-Cherry O-Shichi”
    John Whittier Treat, “Kasagi Shizuko and the Afro-Creolization of Postwar Japan”
    Nobuko Yamasaki, “Weird Reproductions of the Japanese Empire by Racialized Other Pop Stars”

    Event Venue

    Learning Labs

    Featuring

    MODERATOR:
    J.D. Considine

    PANELISTS:
    Michael Bourdaghs
    Jon Holt
    John Whittier Treat
    Nobuko Yamasaki

Archive

PDF Resources

2015 Call for Proposals

Program Committee Members

Will Hermes (Rolling Stone), Jennifer Lena (Columbia University), Emily Lordi (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) Greil Marcus (The Believer), Rashod Ollison (The Virginian-Pilot), Ann Powers (NPR Music), Shana Redmond (University of Southern California), Julianne Escobedo Shepherd (New York University), and Travis Stimeling (West Virginia University)

Support for the conference is provided by the University of Alabama College of Arts & Sciences, on behalf of the Department of American Studies.