CfA: Sound, Sexuality, and Sexism (PopScriptum)

PopScriptum Nr. 12:
“Sound, Sexuality, and Sexism“
Deadline: 15th of July 2015

It seems obvious, and not only from an academic perspective, that popular music is highly intertwined with sexuality and gender. The current discussion on this subject is reflected on the one hand in publications that ascribe subversion, androgyny, or queerness to popular music and its protagonists (see Doris Leibetseder, Sheila Whiteley/Jennifer Rycenga) and on the other in an explicit critique of sexist and sexualizing representations of women in the popular music context (see Nicola Dibben, Simon Frith/Angea McRobbie).

More and more, research in this field is looking at the sound of popular music – and in particular at its voices. These analyses are carving out the specific sounds, or sound-based dynamics, of either the subversion or the reproduction of normative images of gender and sexuality (see Barbara Bradby, Suzanne Cusick, Freya Jarman, Laurie Stras). In this issue of PopScriptum, we would like to explore this field further and to pursue in particular the question of a specific dimension of music that may contribute its own new perspectives to a more general debate on gender and sexuality.

We are therefore asking for contributions that discuss the role of popular music in the construction of gendered bodies, gendered identity, desire, eroticism, or differing images of sexuality.

We are interested in questions like: On which levels of popular music are gender images produced and what constitutes them? What sounds “queer”, “sexy”, “feminine” or “masculine” and why? And what conclusions may be drawn from that for gender images that are often analyzed on the basis of visual or verbal material in other disciplines? Can they be affirmed, amended, developed further or challenged? What are the social effects of the gender images produced in popular music? How are gendered or sexually coded identities, bodies, or subjects generated by interaction with music? What part do music-related practices, such as dance, play? How can a solid link be established between sexism or feminism and music? What empowering or subversive potentials can be found in any particular music – and for whom and in what context? How does music interact with visual representations, images, and contexts? And finally, how does music effect the development of gender and sexuality in a normalizing or transformative way in a society?

We are interested in studies concerning individual songs, artists, or contexts, as well as in theoretical works on fundamental considerations. We particularly welcome qualified contributions that reflect the sound of gender in relation to other categories, especially race.

If you are interested in participating, please send a one or two-sided abstract to LJMueller(AT) by the 15th of July 2015. We will let you know promptly whether or not your article has been accepted. All completed texts must reach us by the 30th of April 2016. The publication is planned for June 2016. Texts can be in German or English. Contributions from young academics are sincerely welcome.

About PopScriptum:
PopScriptum was founded in 1992 as the first German-speaking publication platform on popular music studies and is put out by the “Forschungszentrum Populäre Musik” at Humboldt University of Berlin. It is published online at irregular intervals. The individual “issues” are meant to function as thematic platforms for an ongoing discussion that can be continued at all times – independent from any publishing dates. That means that additional contributions to this subject or to one of the past issues of PopScriptum can also be handed in at any time. PopScriptum welcomes contributions from all disciplines as long as they deal with popular music as their primary subject.

Lena Jade Müller
Mail: LJMueller[AT]
Tel: + 49 – (0) 30 – 2093 – 2062
Fax: + 49 – (0) 30 – 2093 – 2183


  • Leibetseder, Doris (2010): „Queere tracks“, Bielefeld.
  • Whiteley, Sheila/Rycenga, Jennifer (2006) Hrsg.: „Queering the popular pitch“, New York/Abington.
  • Dibben, Nicola (1999): „Representations of femininity in popular music“, Popular Music, Vol. 18, No. 3, Oxford.
  • Frith, Simon /McRobbie, Angela (1978): „Rock and Sexuality“,, in: Frith, Simon/Goodwin, Andrew (Hrsg.): On Record – Rock, Pop & the written word, London.
  • Bradby, Barbara (2002): „Oh, Boy! (Oh, Boy!): mutual desrability and musical structure in the buddy group“, in: Popular Music Volume 21/1, Cambridge.
  • Cusick, Suzanne G. (1999): „On Musical Performance of Gender and Sex“, in: Barkin, Elaine/Hamessley, Lydia (Hrsg.): Audible Traces, Zürich/Los Angeles.
  • Jarman- Ivens, Freya (2011): „Queer Voices – Technologies, Vocalities and the Musical Flaw“, New York.
  • Stras, Laurie (2011) Hrsg.: „She’s So Fine: Reflections on Whiteness, Femininity, Adolescence and Class in 1960s Music“, Farnham/Burlington.
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