cfp: Writing HerStories: Women’s Rock Memoirs


Writing HerStories: Women’s Rock Memoirs (Provisional title)

Editors: Cristina Garrigós (National University of Distance Education, UNED, Spain) and Marika Ahonen (University of Turku, Finland).

The last ten years have seen a significant rise in the number of published memoirs by female rock musicians. Patti Smith’s Just Kids (2010) came out in the same year that Kristin Hersch’s Rat Girl (2010) appeared, and others soon followed: Alice Bag’s Violence Girl: East L.A. Rage to Hollywood Stage. A Chicana Punk Story (2011), Kim Gordon’s Girl in a Band (2015), Carrie Brownstein’s Hunger Made Me a Modern Girl (2016), Chrissie Hynde’s Reckless (2016), Michelle Cruz Gonzales’s The Spitboy Rule. Tales of a Xicana in a Female Punk Band (2016), Cosey Fanni Tutti’s Art, Sex, Music (2017), and Viv Albertine’s Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys (2016). More recently, there are Debbie Harry’s Face It (2019), Liz Phair’s Horror Stories. A Memoir (2019), and Kathy Valentine’s All I Ever Wanted (2020). These examples – all from the U.S. and the U.K. – suggest that there is a growing interest in, and room for, women’s rock memoirs.

The commercial success of these memoirs attests to the rise of a new genre in which women’s voices have acquired a new significance. Aware that their public persona had previously been structured mostly through not only their music, but perhaps mainly through interviews and images, now they take up their pens – or computer keyboards – to deliver first-person narratives of their vision of themselves. In this volume, we ask how female rock musicians, or female-identified rock musicians, narrate and remember their experiences in memoir, and what type of knowledge these books offer.

Academic attention to musical memoirs has been growing of late, as the publication of Music, Memory, and Memoir (Bloomsbury, 2019) demonstrates. However, no attention has been paid specifically to the writing of women in rock music. The rise of studies of popular culture, autobiography studies, and cultural history, together with a gender perspective, are therefore fertile academic soil for works such as the one we are presenting here. As musical memoirs are fragmented and interdisciplinary, in this volume we specifically focus on female-identified rock musicians by emphasizing an intersectional understanding of the topic. Gender apart, we also want to consider how other factors, including ethnicity and socioeconomics, shape the authors’/musicians’ experiences and influence the remembrance and narration of their lives in memoirs. The tension between the public persona and the private, remembering and forgetting, telling and not telling, thus structures many of these works and deserves further exploration.

Possible subjects to be addressed include, but are not restricted to:

•                          Memory and Forgetting.

•                          Creation: reflections on musical and literary production.

•                          Narrative strategies of life-writing in a memoir.

•                          Being a woman in the music world.

•                          Aging: the perspective of a mature woman looking back and considering the present.

•                          Role models and cultural influences.

•                          Maternity: wanted and unwanted maternity. Abortion. Children. Adoption…

•                          Sex: Narrating sexual experiences and verbalizing sexual abuse.

•                          Mental issues: eating disorders, depression, anxiety, etc.

•                          Affect theory and the female musical autobiography.

•                          Defense of or resistance to feminist ideas.

•                          Punk/Rock aesthetics and politics.

•                          Re-writing their stories: challenges of previous representations (reports, interviews, videoclips, pictures, …)

•                          Life writing as performance.

•                          The female memoir as a genre: topoi, tropes, traditions…

•                          Ethics of storytelling in a memoir

•                          The limitations and the politics of remembering

•                          The therapeutics of writing a memoir

We are seeking English-language contributions that address female rock memoirs published in the past decade. We encourage contributors to think about the topic broadly, in the frames of the somewhat vaguely-defined “rock genre”. Although the examples mentioned above are all U.S. and U.K.-based, works written outside these frames are warmly welcome.

Please submit proposals (300 words) and a brief bio (100 words) by 15 October 2020 to Cristina Garrigós or Marika Ahonen

For accepted proposals, final essays between 5,000-7,000 words (inclusive of notes and bibliography) will be due 30 September 2021.