ROCK ON: Women, Ageing and Popular Music

full name / name of organization: 
Abigail Gardner and Dr. Ros Jennings, University of Gloucestershire
contact email: 

Rock On': women, ageing and popular music investigates a series of increasingly important issues for popular music studies relating to age and performance. The book comprises of a collection of essays which focus on influential women performers and explores the ways that their ageing has impacted on their performance strategies, star persona and their relationships with audiences and the popular music press. These aspects amplify and intersect with issues of genre, sexuality, and race that are at the heart of academic studies of popular music artists.
The collection is divided into two parts. Each part begins with an introductory essay which contextualises the individual essays and places them within the overall argument of the collection Part One deals with those interventions that are broadly more 'mainstream' whilst Part Two, seeks to interrogate the nexus of rebellion and age in a predominantly youth-driven market. Whilst we are aware of the contingencies and debates over such a separation, this will set out some parameters for discussion around lines that we recognise as emergent in the field.

Part One: Performative strategies:

Our questions here are two fold: first, to ask how age might require performers to renegotiate their strategies of performance and to consider the idea of renewal through re-negotiation (e.g. Petula Clark and Shirley Bassey). Second to reflect on the part that nostalgia might play for both the performer and audience. We also consider how age affords a luxury of authority and/or activism where the artist is allowed to operate in a different discursive space and for example assume new and complex roles such as 'national treasure' or cultural spokesperson (e.g. Annie Lennox; kd lang).

Part Two: It's not over …:

Our concerns here are to generate research across the terrains of 'punk' and 'independent' rock to examine the trajectories of resistance and age. We seek to re-evaluate the notion of youth as arbiter of resistance and examine the relationship between that and age, investigating how it might be played out in both the performances of ageing punk women (e.g. Viv Albertine, The Raincoats, Debbie Harry, Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth); Siouxsie Sioux) and in fan practices (Bennett, 2006).

In the initial instance, we are looking for expressions of interest in the form of abstracts of 300 words to be emailed to

by the end of March 2010; completed essays of approx 7000 words to be with us by the end of November 2010.