Reading Rock and Roll: Authenticity, Appropriation, Aesthetics

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Considering the work of such artists as Madonna, George Clinton, U2, Elvis Costello, and Nirvana, the contributors deftly combine the rigors of scholarship with the energy of rock journalism to provide an analysis at once critical, contextualized, and enthusiastic. While a number of scholars have recently turned their attention to rock and pop music, most of their work has focused on providing sweeping cultural contexts for its popularity rather than exploring the music itself. Now, in Reading Rock and Roll, ...

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Overview

Considering the work of such artists as Madonna, George Clinton, U2, Elvis Costello, and Nirvana, the contributors deftly combine the rigors of scholarship with the energy of rock journalism to provide an analysis at once critical, contextualized, and enthusiastic. While a number of scholars have recently turned their attention to rock and pop music, most of their work has focused on providing sweeping cultural contexts for its popularity rather than exploring the music itself. Now, in Reading Rock and Roll, Kevin Dettmar and William Richey have gathered a wealth of erudite, original, and clever writings that perform close readings of rock music--often with surprising results.

The authors in this volume view rock and roll as having had affinities with postmodernism from its inception. With its mongrel pedigree--drawing on blues, folk, R and B, and bluegrass--and its relation to mass media and high-tech modes of production, rock music has been self-conscious and full of irony from the beginning. These essays regularly call attention to the allusiveness and intertextuality of rock and roll, whether it is Kurt Cobain undermining the Beatles, M. C. Hammer stealing from Rick James's "Super Freak," or U2's use of Johnny Cash's legendary voice.

From a careful examination of the roles of addictions and female sexuality in the remakings of Courtney Love and Madonna, to the politics of George Clinton's uses and abuses of language, to the referencing of Elvis Costello in two recent novels and the use of 1970s rock in several recent film soundtracks, these essays are as varied as the artists they consider. Informal and theoretically informed, Reading Rock and Roll is an important investigation of the music that more than any other has defined our century.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Jennifer Wicke
Reading Rock & Roll has a worthy, compelling energy and a great deal of sophistication. Dettmar and Richey´s book shows us that rock music is something that we need to read, as well as hear; that in its reading lie secrets of truth and transcendence with messages for us all. With elegance and unassuming brilliance, they take up the call for a theorized popular music, and resoundingly succeed in conveying the excitement and necessity of the task.
Booknews
In spite of the dictum often attributed to Elvis Costello that "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture," a number of academics from a variety of disciplines examine a range of aspects of pop music. Included in the 13 contributions are explorations of the political/social philosophy of Parliament's George Clinton represented by his antithetical characters Dr. Funkenstein and Sir Nose D'Voidoffunk, the media's Madonna/whore treatment of Madonna and Courtney Love, and homosexual agency in the macho world of hardcore music. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231113991
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 7/20/1999
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.01 (w) x 8.96 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Kevin J. H. Dettmar is professor and chair of the Department of English at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. He is the author of The Illicit Joyce of Postmodernism: Reading Against the Grain, editor of Rereading the New: A Backward Glance at Modernism, and (with Stephen Watt) Marketing Modernisms: Self-Promotion, Canonization, and Rereading.William Richey is associate professor of English at the University of South Carolina. He is the author of Blake's Altering Aesthetic.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

1. Modeling Authenticity, Authenticating Commercial Models, by Michael Coyle and Jon Dolan2. Too Much Mead? Under the Influence (of Participant-Observation), by R. J. Warren Zanes3. Fixing Madonna and Courtney: Sex Drugs Rock 'n' Roll Reflux, by Marilyn Manners4. "Ask Any Girl'': Compulsory Heterosexuality and Girl Group Culture, by Patricia Juliana Smith5. "Do Doc Martens Have a Special Smell?'' Homocore, Skinhead Eroticism, and Queer Agency, by Ashley Dawson6. Dr. Funkenstein's Supergroovalisticprosifunkstication: George Clinton Signifies, by Mark Willhardt and Joel Stein7. "I Have Come Out to Play'': Jonathan Richman and the Politics of the Faux Naf, by John Alberti8. This Is Fascism? (Raves and the Politics of Dancing), by Sean Portnoy9. The Riot Grrrls and "Carnival'', by Neil Nehring10. Time to Heal, "Desire'' Time: The Cyberprophesy of U2's "Zoo World Order'', by Robyn Brothers11. "Even Better than the Real Thing'': U2's (Love) Songs of the Self, by Atara Stein12. Elvis Costello as Cultural Icon and Cultural Critic, by Pamela Thurschwell13. Musical Cheese: The Appropriation of Seventies' Music in Nineties' Movies, by Kevin J. H. Dettmar and William Richey

Columbia University Press

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