Gatekeeping Country: An Ethnographic Study of Female Country Music Performers in the 21st Century

This article is adapted from a presentation given at BAAS Postgraduate Symposium, 4th December 2021. In December 2021, I was delighted to have the opportunity to present a paper on my ongoing PhD research at the BAAS Postgraduate Symposium. Sitting at an intersection of ethnomusicology, American studies, and the sociology… Continue reading

Quantum Leap: Jukebox Nostalgia and the Flattening of History

In the opening scene of the Quantum Leap episode “Animal Frat” (2×12), Dr. Sam Beckett ‘leaps’ into the body of Knut “Wild Thing” Wileton, arriving in his body on top of a pool table as two ‘Tau Kappa Beta’ fraternity brothers pour beer from the keg into Sam’s startled face…. Continue reading

‘Can the Subaltern Play?’ Jazz as Voice in Boston, Massachusetts circa 1910 – 1949

One of the most interesting developments in contemporary subaltern studies has been its growing engagement with culture, particularly music. In 1988, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, in the context of postcolonial research, asked, ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’ which, through its focus on agency, inspired greater inclusiveness and self-critical research on the other, life on the margins, and unheard peoples. Since then, many scholars have engaged with the political consequences of Spivak’s question and used her essay as inspiration. Continue reading

My Research: Juliet Williams

‘My Research’ is a new feature that aims to introduce and summarise the research and work of Postgraduates and Early Career Researchers within the field of American and Canadian Studies. Sit back, and get to know some of the craziest, challenging, and rewarding places researchers have been taken to… Continue reading

‘Is It Because I’m Black?’: The Music Industry, Image, and Politics in the Careers of Syl and Syleena Johnson

Throughout June 2016, U.S. Studies Online will be publishing a series of posts to mark African American Music Appreciation Month. In the fifth and final post, Glen Whitcroft compares the similarities between Syl Johnson and Syleena Johnson’s music and careers. Looking back over my false dreams that I once knew,… Continue reading

Configuring The Dream Factory: Prince Fans and Destabilisation of the Album in the Digital Age

The speed with which ‘Prince’s ‘Vault’ of unreleased recordings was drilled into after his untimely death felt shocking to many. The existence of ‘The Vault’, a locked room within Prince’s Paisley Park recording complex, has been well known for decades and is believed to contain thousands of unreleased Prince recordings, as well as unseen music videos. However, the promise of authorising material that fans have been making their own for a considerable amount of time has refuelled discussion. Continue reading

Prince, Seventh-Day Adventism and the Apocalyptic Threat of the 1980s

In the light of his recent death, it is important to note how Prince’s music contributed to public discourse about religious norms and eschatological hopes. Prince’s most successful period as a recording artist came during the 1980s, and his lyrics throughout this decade reflect a contemporary escalation in discussions of the apocalyptic. Continue reading

“Money, That’s What I Want”: Who Benefitted from the Crossover of African American Musicians in the 1960s?

Throughout the twentieth century, the American music industry was plagued by issues of race, segregation and inequality; much like America itself. As the century progressed, music became a significant indicator of race relations and a willingness within much of the United States to racially integrate. This is exemplified through the growing ability for African American musicians to crossover to mainstream audiences. Scholar, Phillip Harper defines the term ‘crossover’ as an act’s achievement of commercial success due to its appeal across racial boundaries Continue reading

Beyoncé’s ‘Lemonade’: A Complex and Intersectional Exploration of Racial and Gendered Identity

Much of Beyoncé’s career has been defined by an image that has spoken largely to notions of the form of ‘girl power’ and independence that we associate with the emergence of postfeminist popular culture in the 1990s. Largely conceptualised as a ‘non-political’ feminist discourse, manifestations of postfeminism in popular culture have been characterised by notions of choice, individualism and the re-commodification of femininity. Continue reading