‘This is the Modern World’: For a Social History of Rock Music‏

Call for papers
‘This is the Modern World’: For a Social History of Rock Music
International Conference
University Charles-de-Gaulle Lille 3 (Lille, France)
13-15 June 2013

In Anglo-American countries, the history of rock music has been institutionalized since the 1970s, notably in musicology and cultural studies departments. In France, on the contrary, it has been considered, until recently, as a rather minor subject, abandoned to journalists and amateurs. Although French musicologists, sociologists and specialists of British and American literatures and civilizations did produce a large amount of work on popular music, French historians encountered rock and roll mostly by chance, while working on the history of youth or the history of the record industry. Bertrand Lemonnier’s pioneering work (L’Angleterre des Beatles. Une histoire culturelle des années soixante, Seuil, 1995) remained for a long time an exception. Things are beginning to change: thesis and masters papers on the history of rock music are being defended, and history departments are more and more interested in these questions.

There are many possibilities for research in social, cultural, economic and political history. If the history of rock music implies the history of musical genres, it cannot be reduced to it. Rock music is a complex socio-musical phenomenon, revealing of social and cultural changes essential to the understanding of contemporary societies. This conference aims at offering an outline of the richness of the field, in an international and interdisciplinary way.

This conference welcomes scholars as well as PhD students working on the history of rock and popular music, whatever their discipline. Roundtables will be organized in order to confront the point of view of journalists, musicians and amateurs.

‘Rock music’ is used here as a blanket term for the different music styles that evolved from rock and roll. Papers dealing with jazz, folk music, hip hop or electronic music may be submitted, if they appear relevant to the history of rock music. Papers can cover a period from the 1950s until today.

The geographical area is not limited: although proposals dealing with the Anglo-American world (especially the United States and Great Britain) will be accepted, papers dealing with other European spaces (France, Germany, Benelux, Scandinavia, Mediterranean countries, Central and Oriental Europe) and extra-European spaces (Africa, Asia, Latin America, Oceania) will be particularly welcomed.

All submissions should be original pieces which are not published elsewhere. Paper presentations at the conference will be a maximum of 20 minutes long. They can be delivered in French or in English.

We invite papers on the following subjects:
– sources and methodologies:
* how to locate and create archives for rock music; private collections and collectors; oral history, sound and audiovisual archives…
* historians and rock music, interdisciplinarity, roles of journalists, professionals and fans in the history of rock music…

– cultural transfers and national identities: papers dealing with the acculturation (or not) of rock music in different parts of the world, as well as papers focusing on specific and original national or local rock scenes will be especially welcomed. Approaches in terms of global history, contrastive history, connected history and comparative history are particularly encouraged.

– social and economic history: history of record labels and of the recording industry; history of rock music venues, clubs and tours ; history of sound recording, history of music instruments…

– social and political history:
* rock music and politics: counter-cultures, protest songs, rock music and youth culture, rock music and 1968, rock music and communism, rock music and the far-right, censorship, religion, rock music and public policies…
* gender studies: rock music and feminism, rock music and masculinities, rock music and sexualities, rock music and homosexualities, transgender/queer rock music…
* postcolonial studies: rock music and ethnicity, rock music and immigration, rock music and black cultures, rock music and Islam…

– social and cultural history:
* media history: rock music and the press, rock criticism, rock music on the radio and television, rock music and the internet
* popular culture, mass culture, ‘high’ culture: rock music and literature, rock music and cinema, rock music and visual arts, rock music and comics, fanclubs, fandoms…
* visual studies: history of record covers, posters, videos; history of stage performance

Proposals for papers (CV + abstract of no more than 300 words), in French or in English, should be submitted to Arnaud Baubérot (bauberot@u-pec.fr) and Florence Tamagne (ftamagne@noos.fr) by 1 October 2012. Response to authors by 30 October 2012.