with Dr Catherine Strong – Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology

Friday March 22nd, 5.30-7pm

University of Technology Building CB10 – Room 2.410 [via entry on Jones Street, opposite Cornerstone Café – just walk through the main entrance and it’s the seminar room at the far end of the open space in front of you]

Recent activism around sexual violence in the music industry raises questions about the extent to which such behaviours have always been part of popular music, and how the way histories of this music have been written has ignored, excused or even valorised such misdeeds. This occurs in a context where the history of popular music is overwhelmingly written by, and about, men. When viewed through a feminist framework that foregrounds women’s experiences and perspectives, many normalised behaviours in the history of rock – indeed, the entire ‘sex, drugs and rock and roll’ mythos – take on a much more sinister edge. This paper considers how we should discuss such behaviours in talking about the history of popular music. It examines what is written about rock musicians with a documented history of violence against women, using Axl Rose and XXXTentacion as specific examples, with a view to starting this project of reframing what is said about musicians’ treatment of women. It explores how the application of a feminist framework to the analysis of such works could form the basis for a reimagined history of popular music that interrogates where and how abuse may have taken place in the past, and works towards making the spaces of popular music safer in the future.

Catherine will talk for approximately 45 minutes followed by a discussion session chaired by Liz Giuffre.