Subcultures, Popular Music and Social Change

On September 15th and 16th, I’ll be in Foggy London Town reading a paper at the Subcultures, Popular Music & Social Change conference. Folks like Dick Hebdige and Caroline Coon will be there too. Will you?

If you are, drop me a line! I’ll be presenting a paper I’ve written with Dr. Michael B. MacDonald. See the abstract below, as well as links to more information on the conference.

Dissent Across the Genres: the blurry line between folk and punk

Michael B. MacDonald, University of Alberta (Music)
Rylan Kafara, University of Alberta (History)

Traditionally, folk and punk music were kept separate in the literary discourse. Instead of bringing to light any similarities, the differences between the two genres have been highlighted. This paper turns away from this historical framework and examines a shared sound of protest, and a mutual attitude that spans across genres.

Musicians such as Woody Guthrie have been forced into the literary narrative of folk music, even if they do not neatly fit. When looking at methods of dissent, Guthrie has more in common with later punk musicians as they share a similar style of resistance. Most revealingly, those following in Guthrie’s footsteps have been excluded from the folk discourse, such as Joey “Shithead” Keithley and Tom Morello as the Nightwatchman. This paper contends with the notion of genre categorization and in doing so specifically calls into question how dissent has been labelled. By stressing connections, a counter-history is uncovered that raises questions about the relationship between music and society, and the way it is perceived in academia and popular culture.

Conference website
Conference poster

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