When academia meets popular culture, magical things happen. It is through the lens of academics that we see the feminist potential of Beyonce and the importance of icons like Sylvester and RuPaul to impart ideas about gay culture and the queer identities of the late disco and post-disco eras.
Scholars of popular culture come from many different academic departments and approach the study with the perspective of their disciplines. This week, they will converge on the University of Louisville for the International Association for the Study of Popular Music Conference, a four-day event to share and discuss their research.
LEO caught up with two of the planners, Diane Pecknold (Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies) and Tracy Heightchew (Program Coordinator for the Commonwealth Center for the Humanities and Society), who filled us in on this year’s conference and why such studies are important.
“When you walk into a classroom of undergraduates. What they are spending their time on is popular culture and popular music. We devote an enormous amount of time and resources to popular music. Thinking about the consequences of what we listen to and how it is distributed accounts for a lot of our daily lives. Sometimes popular culture and music get dismissed as fluff or irrelevant, but it is the way we make meaning, the way we make connection to other people, the way we establish identity, so it is not irrelevant at all,” says Pecknold.
“The mission of the Commonwealth Center is to connect the University and the learning that is happening with the community at large,“ said Heightchew. “The university is a cultural resource for the city.”
Conference offerings include panels and papers delivered on diverse topics such as queer performance and the globalization of Japanese popular music. Among the panels offered, “Public Making and the Independent Music Festival” on Friday morning promises to bring the advocacy side of music festival planning face to face with the public and attending scholars. Some of the issues addressed will be how underrepresented populations are given a platform through these types of music festivals. Local music event players John King (Louisville is for Lovers), Carrie Neumayer (Outskirts Festival) and Ryan Davis (Cropped Out) will share their knowledge.
According to Pecknold, “The way that festivals are organized and have changed the popular music industry has had an enormous impact, and festivals are again one of those ways you create community and link people to one another.”
Saturday, during the lunch break there is a roundtable discussing the history of the Louisville underground music scene with local music all-stars David Grubbs, Britt Walford, Heather Fox, Brett Ralph and Rachel Grimes.
There will be a pre-conference event Wednesday, February 18, at Dreamland, which will host the 33 1/3 series editor Ally-Jane Grossan. For more information, visit iaspm-us.net/2015-iaspm-us-annual-conference.
International Association for the
Study of Popular Music Conference
Feb. 19 – 22
U of L Ekstrom Library