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Punk Studies

19 Jan

Ryan Moore has an article in the Chronicle Review about punk studies. It seems to have been online for free for a minute, but may now be behind a pay-wall. The provocation is “Is punk the new jazz?” not in a strictly musical sense, but in the sense of a cultural form that has lost popular traction as it has gained academic credibility. Luckily, Moore immediately points out the obvious differences between punk and jazz, bringing in helpful discussions of hip hop and blues along the way.

My main quarrel with the article is its US-centrism — as intimated by the above-mentioned genres. They have the inevitable effect of placing punk in “the story of American music,” where it does and doesn’t belong. Where is a discussion of punk in relation to ska, reggae, 2-tone? And, for an article on the relationship between academic theory and musical subcultures, I was truly surprised to see Bourdieu name-checked but not Dick Hebdige.

Maybe everybody is supposed to already know their British Cultural Studies backwards and forwards by now. But somehow I can’t help but feel that the historiography of punk is being placed in a too-convenient national frame (not just in this article, but it’s a case in point). The linearity of the national frame seems to make it easier to periodize punk through generational logics (“kids these days”), a “straight time” of reproductive temporality that would be complicated by transnational frames.

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Remix Theory

6 Dec

Nick turned me on to this site:

Remix Theory.

I love the fact that the author holds up Reader’s Digest as an example of the remix.

The Butch’s Throat

16 May

I’ve been trying to listen to and think about the transgendered voice recently. This blog post about Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls has helped.

The value of academic blogging

9 Mar

This post on the value of academic blogs makes a lot of sense to me, particularly here:

To think about such matters from the perspective of assemblage theory, we should be able to see that the material and expressive segments of a journal serve a strong, territorializing function, reaffirming the boundaries of discipline and the identities of participants. Sitting behind a paywall, available primarily through academic libraries, one can be fairly certain that no one will even accidentally encounter the text (and even if they did, the discourse would likely turn them away). There are good reasons for doing this kind of writing, but I would suggest that it is not the only kind of writing humanists should do. On the other hand, the functionality of the blog has a strong, deterritorializing function. It is designed to carry the media away via RSS feeds, to go viral via Twitter and Facebook, and so on. It is public and available via Google. And while it’s discourse can be variable, and potentially as esoteric as any journal article, the culture of blogging in general invites participation and sharing.

I only skimmed the comments, but they seemed to contain a useful discussion of methods, and an intriguing anxiety about exposing humanistic approaches to the casual ethos of the net. As if paywalls and peer review were a sort of curtain behind which our wizardry were best conjured.

But everyone has seen the end of that movie, so it looks like we are looking at the world of discourse without emerald colored glasses for the foreseeable future.