Eric Weisbard was kind enough to send me this call for proposals, for the EMP’s annual Pop Conference in Seattle in late April. If previous years are anything to go by, there should be a healthy smattering of 33 1/3 authors in attendance – no doubt buying drinks for everybody, with the royalties from their massive book sales.
The 2006 Experience Music Project Pop Conference
Seattle, WA, April 27-30, 2006
What forces are at work when we like something we “shouldn’t”? What role does shame, either shame succumbed to or shame resisted, play in the pleasure we as fans and interpreters take from the music we love? Is loving music passionately (collecting it, critiquing it, fashioning one’s identity around it) itself becoming a guilty pleasure, i.e. something increasingly rare and in need of explanation, something self-indulgent or questionable? To what extent do these issues reveal hierarchies of taste, transformed subjectivities, the effect of politics on culture, or other lines of contestation permeating popular music?
For this year’s Pop Conference, we invite papers, panels, or other presentations on these topics. Related questions include but are not limited to:
–In what terms do “guilty pleasures” operate beyond the U.S. experience? How do different genres define the inappropriate?
–Who are the performers, the issues and the hidden pleasures, that you have wanted to write about but never dared, or who you loved and then forsook?
–What happens when you center your focus on “minor” histories?
–How do the desires for novelty and permanence, diaspora and roots, or for that matter extremity and conformity, play out against each other in music?
–Can we think in less whiggish and salutary ways about pop and progress, or how music functions in dark times?
–Does doubt affect the creation of musical works, and not only reception? What guilty pleasure do performers feel about their own social impact?
–How does technology and futurist rhetoric affect distinctions in pop fashion between the sublime and the ridiculous?
–What are the connections between pop shame and “passing”: sexual, racing, class, nationality?
The EMP Pop Conference first convened in Spring 2002 and is now entering its fifth year. The goal has always been to bring academics, writers, artists, fans, and other participants into an all-too-rare common discussion. Most presentations are of the 20 minute panel talk variety, but unorthodox suggestions are our favorite kind and we can support a wide range of technological experimentation. Previous year’s conferences have resulted in the anthology This is Pop (Harvard, 2004), the current special issue of Popular Music (“Magic Moments”), and a second anthology that is under preparation. This year’s program committee includes Drew Daniel (Matmos), writer Jessica Hopper, Jason King (New York University), Michaelangelo Matos (Seattle Weekly), Ann Powers (Blender), David Sanjek (BMI), Philip Schuyler (University of Washington), and Karen Tongson (University of Southern California).
Proposals should be no more than 250 words, should be accompanied by a brief bio and full contact information, and are due January 16, 2006. Proposals are judged by liveliness of prose as much as pertinence of topic. Email them, as well as any questions about the conference, the theme, your topic, or the application process, to organizer Eric Weisbard at EricW at emplive.org. For more information on previous conferences, including a full range of participants and abstracts, go to: http://www.emplive.org/visit/education/popConf.asp