Call for Chapter Proposals // Critical Perspectives on Lyrical Music of the 20th and 21st Centuries

deadline for submissions: 
May 1, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Maria-Josee Mendez Troutman // University of South Carolina
contact email: 

Chapter proposals are requested for a proposed collection of critical essays on lyrical artists working across musical genres in the 20th and 21st centuries. 

2017 saw the reception of the Nobel Prize in Literature by the American singer and songwriter Bob Dylan. The news of the Swedish Academy’s decision immediately polarized the public: on one end were the ‘Dylanphiles’ who concurred with the Academy’s ruling that the songwriter had “created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”; on the other were many who did not deny the lyrical merit of Dylan’s work, but who could not find sufficient justification for his reception of the Nobel Prize when many others working in literature remain unrecognized. Hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar similarly made waves when he received the Pulitzer Prize in Music—an award that had previously been given exclusively to classical and jazz musicians—for his album DAMN. the following year.

It will probably remain a controversial move by the Swedish Academy to award Dylan the Nobel Prize, and it is doubtful that another musician like him shall receive it again any time soon, but perhaps it is time to think seriously about, as well as encourage and produce, critical work on artists like Dylan and Lamar. Universities around the world already offer courses on artists like Beyoncé, Radiohead, and Bob Marley, as well as genres like Glam Rock and Electronic Dance Music. Serious analysis of popular musical production in the 21st century is occurring across the United States and abroad; but is there a place for serious critical work like this to be shared outside of the classroom?

I therefore welcome initial proposals of approximately 300-350 words for essays working critically with lyrical musicians of the 20th and 21st century—ranging anywhere from The Beatles to the Rolling Stones to the Strokes. These may be proposals working with the musical production of a single artist, or else comparative studies of two (or more) different musicians or even comparative studies of a musician with a literary or philosophical figure. The essays in this anthology would not (necessarily) be arguing for the value of a musician’s work, but would rather “read” albums, song collections, or artists’ canons as pieces to be analyzed with recourse to a variety of critical frames. The objective of such an anthology is ultimately to provide a creative space for those who love music to produce and disseminate critical work on the albums they think are most important.

An academic press has expressed interest in this volume.

Please send abstracts to Maria-Josee Mendez Troutman at critical.lyrical.perspectives@gmail.com by May 1st.