The Legacy of The Tragically Hip
CFP: The Legacy of The Tragically Hip
From 1984 to 2017, The Tragically Hip released 13 studio albums and achieved the status of the best-selling Canadian band in Canada. The final tour of the band in 2016, with lead singer Gord Downie dying of brain cancer, culminated in a concert on August 20, 2016, which was watched on television and online by 11.7 million Canadians. Since the passing of Downie, some hagiographic work, such as Michael Barclay's The Never-Ending Present: The Story of Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip (2018) and the documentary Long Time Running (2017), has assessed the history of the band, but there has yet to be a comprehensive academic assessment of The Tragically Hip and its legacy in music, film, television, and other facets of Canadian popular culture. Our workshop aims to correct this absence, and we are partnering with McGill-Queen's University Press to publish the best new research from the workshop as a book.
The legacy of The Tragically Hip presents no shortage of apparent contradictions. The band was often hailed as an exemplification of "Canadian" culture, and yet its fan base did not reflect the demographic diversity of Canada. Similarly, the Hip merchandise foregrounded hypernationalism, while the songs they wrote were more ambiguous or antagonistic toward Canadian nationalism. One could also interrogate the juxtaposition of the Hip's status as a prototypical Canadian band with the late-life appeal from Gord Downie for reconciliation with the Indigenous people of Turtle Island. Downie's solo album Secret Path and The Gord Downie and Charlie Wenjack Foundation, which raises money for reconciliation-oriented projects, have been the subject of both praise and condemnation. How would one categorize the influence of the Hip on Canadian popular music or culture at large?
This workshop is interested in more than just the music of The Tragically Hip. We want to explore the band's multimodal performativity, as well. The Hip came of age during the rise of MTV, MuchMusic, and the music video. The band was also known for its live performances, which often included improvisational lyrics from Downie such as in the famous "Killer Whale Tank" rendition of "New Orleans is Sinking." The Hip also performed at the infamous Woodstock '99. The band also made contributions to film and television, such as Men With Brooms (2002) and The Trailer Park Boys, and Downie released a poetry collection called Coke Machine Glow (2001).
We are looking for 150- to 200-word abstract proposals for 15-minute presentations. The workshop will take place at the University of Lethbridge on May 11, 2024. Proposals are due before midnight on February 17, 2024. Please send your abstract and a CV to firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional information, such as the plenary speaker for this event, is forthcoming. We would like to acknowledge the support of SSHRC and the University of Lethbridge Office of Research and Innovation Services.
Jay Gamble, PhD, University of Lethbridge
Michael Truscello, PhD, Mount Royal University