Contemporary Music and Fiction – Edited Collection (1/31/13)

full name / name of organization: 
Jeffrey Roessner/Mercyhurst University; Erich Hertz/Siena College

Submissions are sought for a collection of essays titled Write in Tune: Contemporary Music in Fiction, which is under contract at Bloomsbury Press (formerly Continuum). As the title suggests, the forthcoming volume focuses on post-1960s fiction that engages the themes, artists, songs, genres, or cultural import of popular music.

Given that many of the chapters for the collection are in place, we would emphasize two points: a) we are particularly interested in essays that focus on issues of gender or that treat racial/national/postcolonial identity; and b) we very much welcome inquiries to avoid duplicate proposals.

Otherwise, please email 500-word proposals and a 150-200-word biography to both Erich Hertz ( and Jeff Roessner ( by January 31, 2013.

Below is an expanded description of the aims of the project:

Since the 1960s the confluence of music and literature has moved far beyond simple adaptation studies, with writers turning to music for cultural references, foundational metaphors, and complex intertextual structure. Indeed, the range of novels that reference contemporary music is stunning, from obvious examples such as Roddy Doyle's The Commitments, Nick Hornby's High Fidelity, Jonathan Lethem's Fortress of Solitude, Alan Warner's Morvern Callar, and Sherman Alexie's Reservation Blues, to more subtle intertextual negotiations in Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting, Willy Russell's The Wrong Boy, and Don DeLillo's Great Jones Street.

We welcome essays that offer readings of how specific authors or texts negotiate these intertwined art forms, but also encourage broader theoretical investigations that illuminate this moment in contemporary fiction. We are also interested in contributions that reflect an international perspective. Essays could consider but are not limited to the following issues:

• In what ways have the musical forms of rock, rap, and pop been interpolated in the structure of contemporary narrative?

• How do authors/characters employ music to construct social, racial, or political identities?

• How does music function as a historical referent, symbolizing the mood or politics of an era?

• What function do musical allusions play in upholding social distinctions (i.e., what is hip, what is not)?

• How has rock music as a postmodern art form (destabilizing assumptions about cultural value) inflected the voice, style, or perspective of contemporary authors?

• How do authors/characters negotiate the racial associations of pop music (grounded as it so often is in African American culture)?

• In contemporary fiction, what role does pop music play in undermining or upholding distinctions between "low" and "high" culture?

• In what ways have gender issues been raised or elided through the musical intertext in recent fiction?

• How is the masculine identity of characters signaled through their appreciation or performance of particular styles of music?

• How has sixties musical style, with its countercultural associations, been appropriated or rejected in contemporary fiction?

• How has western or non-western pop music figured in the negotiation of postcolonial identity?