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Popular music studies: Gender and popular music

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P424, 4th Floor

The Parkside Building

Birmingham City University

Birmingham, United Kingdom

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Jenny McAlone (Lancaster University) - Androgyny in Kate Bush's Aerial

In popular music studies androgyny is frequently used to describe the fusion of male and female characteristics. But what does it mean to refer to a performance as androgynous and how might this be musically articulated? The sonic landscape created by Kate Bush in her album Aerial presents an opportunity to explore the meaning of androgyny in relation to creative practice and articulation of androgynous subjects. Re-engaging androgyny allows the development of a conceptual framework through which androgyny may be reformulated, highlighting its potential use in critically examining and revealing the significance of gender and subjectivity in popular music.

Dr Lisa Palmer (Birmingham City  University)  - Between Lovers Rock and a Hard Place'

Lovers rock music is a distinctive form of ‘romantic’ reggae performed in the British reggae scene where the cultural politics of blackness, the erotic, love and decoloniality converge within the discursive acoustic soundscapes of the blues party and pirate radio. Lovers’ rock emerged in the mid-1970s against the backdrop of tumultuous economic industrial disputes and successive urban uprisings in Britain. Lovers’ rock was an integral component of the reggae music landscape of that period. Nevertheless, in historical and cultural analyses of reggae cultures, lovers rock has a fleeting if not invisible presence and has often been obscured by the masculinised focus on its more raucous relatives, namely ‘conscious’ roots reggae and ragga ‘slackness’. This talk will explicate lovers’ rock as a distinctly Black political project in Britain that has been largely overlooked as an important genre of popular culture.

About the speakers:

Jenny McAlone completed a BA (Hons) and MLitt degree in Music at the International Centre for Music Studies at Newcastle University focussing on popular music and feminist theory. She is currently working on my PhD thesis - a study of androgyny in Kate Bush's album Aerial - at Lancaster University.

Dr. Lisa Palmer is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Birmingham City University and co-editor of the book Blackness in Britain. Her chapter, ‘Men Cry Too – Black Masculinities and the Feminisation of Lover’s Rock’ is published in Black Popular Music in Britain Since 1945. She has also published '‘‘LADIES A YOUR TIME NOW!’ Erotic politics, lovers' rock and resistance in the UK' which discusses the gendering of lovers' rock by suggesting that the genre was part of a much broader and complex political expression of love and rebellion amongst Caribbean communities in Britain.

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P424, 4th Floor

The Parkside Building

Birmingham City University

Birmingham, United Kingdom

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