[Call for Chapters] “Problematic” Punk: NOFX's Forty Years of Punk Provocations

deadline for submissions: 
January 1, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Ellen Bernhard, Stefano Morello, David Pearson
contact email: 

For forty years, NOFX’s brand of (depending who you ask) witty, offensive, humorous, juvenile, intelligent, existential, political, anti-PC, and/or philosophically probing punk has reared several generations in punk attitude and ethos, for better or worse (again, depending who you ask). The band got its start in the early-1980s Los Angeles punk scene, was among the pioneers of the melodic yet hardcore So-Cal punk style, rode the wave of 1990s punk popularity without signing to a major record label, took a political turn during the Bush era, and continued their punk provocations until retiring in 2023. With fifteen studio albums and over eight million record sales, there is much to analyze about NOFX’s lyrics, musical style, business practices, image, personalities, reception, and controversial role in the punk scene.


We invite potential contributors (including but not limited to academics, journalists, and independent researchers) to submit proposals for essays for an edited collection, tentatively titled “Problematic” Punk: NOFX’s Forty Years of Punk Provocations, on any of the below topics or other ideas pertaining to NOFX. We are especially interested in contributions that analyze the more “problematic” aspects of NOFX without condemning the band for violating purported standards of political or DIY purity, and yes, we mean that as a critique of the way “problematic” often gets used as a moral rather than philosophical term. Critiques, including strong ones, are of course welcome, and we have plenty of our own, but we also recognize that the aesthetics of provocation employed by NOFX has been a part of punk from its inception, for better and worse. We hope that this book can add to the growing body of literature that has moved punk scholarship beyond purity narratives, nostalgia for a perfect past that never was, and 1977–83.


Potential topics:

  • The role of wit, sarcasm, and irony in NOFX lyrics and performances

  • In contrast to slapstick humor, the existential, introspective, “soul doubt” side of NOFX

  • Intertextual narratives of punk within NOFX songs (i.e., references to people, places, other bands, scene lore, etc.)

  • Tensions/contradictions/juxtapositions in NOFX’s lyrics and image

  • Dystopian themes in NOFX’s music

  • The aesthetics of provocation and discomfort (including deliberately offensive lyrics, performance, and behavior) in NOFX and as part of punk history

  • NOFX’s candid depictions of ugly realities in the (1980s) punk scene, in contrast to “good old day” punk nostalgia

  • The fine line between selling out and maintaining underground credibility and Fat Mike’s role in building infrastructure that blurred the line between underground and mainstream

  • Punk Voter, the anti-war movement, and NOFX’s politics during the Bush era

  • Gender and sexuality in NOFX’s music (including Fat Mike’s “queerness”)

  • Ethnic and racial tensions (e.g., White Trash, Two Heebs and a Bean, “Don’t Call Me White”; El Hefe’s Chicano identity; Fat Mike and Eric Melvin’s Jewish identity; the role of racist jokes in NOFX’s rhetoric)

  • Global reception: How NOFX is perceived and consumed beyond the United States?


Proposals are due January 1, 2024, and should be around 300 words and accompanied by a short author biography.

Send to: nofxatforty@gmail.com

Chapters will be due July 1, 2024.



Ellen Bernhard is an Assistant Professor of Digital Communication at Georgian Court University in Lakewood, New Jersey. She is the author of Contemporary Punk Rock Communities: Scenes of Inclusion and Dedication (Lexington, 2019).

Stefano Morello is a researcher, educator and curator, currently completing his PhD in English at the CUNY Graduate Center. In addition to authoring several articles on US popular and unpopular culture, he has curated the East Bay Punk Digital Archive, The Beats in/and Italy, and The Lung Block exhibit. 

David Pearson holds a PhD in musicology, teaches at Lehman College, and is the author of Rebel Music in the Triumphant Empire: Punk Rock in the 1990s United States (Oxford University Press, 2021).