UPDATE: The United States through the Prism of American and British Popular Music (11/1/03; e-journal issue)

full name / name of organization: 
Eric Gonzalez

The United States through the Prism of American and British Popular Music.

"I'm so bored with the USA.
But what can I do?"

The Clash, "I'm so Bored with the USA," The Clash, 1977

For over a century and in modes ranging from hagiography to protest, popular
music has been a prime theatre of observation and representations of the
United States on record, in concert and more generally in the performing
arts. Studying this field, with its senders-artists and their
productions-and its receivers-gatekeepers and audiences-could enable us to
cast a different light on the USA as a source of inspiration, rejection and
attraction for musicians on both sides of the Atlantic in order to explore
certain visions of that country, or at least to examine some of the forces
that shape and/or distort it.

This survey will revolve around three axes: aesthetic, economic and
socio-political. We shall first analyse North American musicians' viewpoints
on the United States. For instance, a reference to the State of Alabama has
very different connotations depending on whether one finds it in a piece by
John Coltrane, Canadian musician Neil Young or the Southern rock band Lynyrd
Skynyrd. What do we learn about the USA from artists? To what extent can we
claim that their productions and status in the entertainment industry have
metonymic, metaphoric or even prophetic dimensions?

Far from operating in isolation, the North-American musical field has a
relationship with its British counterpart which may well be described as
special. In the 19th century for example, English and Scottish ballads were
adapted into African-American folklore to depict the feats of "bad guys"
such as Staggerlee or Railroad Bill. However, even though we remember the
strong popularity of blues in 1960s Britain, we tend to regard musical
trends and subcultural movements such as punk and techno as specifically
English and forget the works of American pioneers in New York and Detroit.
What sorts of response do American and British music and musicians draw
across the Atlantic? Is it possible to delineate particular perspectives on
the United States from the music produced in the United Kingdom?

All contributions, preferably in English, should reach us by November 1st

Contact : Eric Gonzalez (e-mail: eric.gonzalez_at_uhb.fr)

Contributions accepted for this project will be reviewed by at least two
reviewers with the understanding that the materials have not been
submitted to another journal. All submissions should be double-spaced, and
conform to the MLA style. Articles should not exceed 20,000 words in length,
including references. For other details, please check on LISA e-journal 's
web-site (http://www.unicaen.fr/mrsh/anglais/lisa). Please join an abstract
and a short bio on separate sheets.

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Received on Thu Oct 02 2003 - 01:58:19 EDT