Call for Chapters: Pop Music Autobiographies


This broad, interdisciplinary collection to be published by Bloomsbury Academic will consider why popular music autobiography has recently become such a widely-read genre and a significant factor in mediating popular music for its audience.

Texts such as Viv Albertine’s Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys,  Miki Berenyi’s Fingers Crossed, Alex James’ Bit of a Blur, Nile Rodgers’ Le Freak, Gucci Mane’s Autobiography of Gucci Mane, and Bob Dylan’s Chronicles have been critically acclaimed and recorded on various best-seller lists whilst delivering for many fans an apparent insider’s understanding of musicians whose work they are invested in.

Yet such narratives have many other functions beyond thrilling fans with a sense of intimacy. Pop music autobiographies have variously attempted to rewrite social history; to redress gender or racial stereotypes; to question received models of fame; to validate new genres and scenes; to explore the renditions of subjectivity in pop music and lyrics; to justify transgressive behaviour; to critique the music industry.

The essays in this volume will address such diverse questions as the above, employing cultural theory frameworks to investigate what this often patronised or stereotyped genre has to offer in understanding popular music and its audiences today. The collection will also consider the forms deployed in pop music autobiographies, which range from familiar narrative arcs to experimental texts and virtual platforms.

We will work from a broad definition of autobiography, including conventional written narratives, via renditions of subjectivity in concerts, interviews, and life-writing, to manifestations of musicians’ lives including social media, museums, and avatars.

Suggested topics/themes for chapters (feel free to propose others that are important to you):

  • Earlier narratives by musicians before the rock era
  • Interviews as dialogised autobiography
  • Experimental forms of autobiography vs conventional narratives
  • Transgressive autobiographies and rock mythologising
  • Female and feminist musicians’ life writing
  • Musicians’ houses and museums as material Autobiographies
  • Musical subjectivities and musical genres
  • Lyrics as coded autobiography
  • Concerts as performed subjectivity
  • Ghosted autobiographies and promotional narratives
  • Oral histories and group autobiography
  • Musicians’ social media personae as real time virtual autobiographies
  • Avatars: performing virtual subjectivities

Proposals/abstracts should be 500 words maximum. Please include up to 5 keywords and a brief biography of the author(s) which includes an institutional affiliation and your contact email. 

Editorial team: Tom Attah (Leeds Arts University), Kirsty Fairclough (SODA at Manchester Metropolitan University), Christian Lloyd (Queens University of Canada)

Send your proposal(s) to:

Deadline for Proposals: 30th April, 2023.  Accepted authors will be notified w/c 15th May 2023.  Accepted chapters to be delivered no later than 15th January 2024.