August 17, 2014 Update

Hello from Norway,

More than thirty years ago, the Norwegian –U.S. Fulbright office, together with the education ministry here, decided to undertake something called the Roving Scholar program. Unique to Norway, the program supports the work of three American Studies teachers each year as they travel around the country, visiting high school classrooms and teacher training/continuing education classes. The program is free for teachers and students, and is one way that the Norwegian government supports English education and American studies.

I am fortunate enough to be one of those Rovers this year, and I will be working with students around Norway on topics near to my heart and mind – popular music and social change movements in the 20th century U.S.

I landed in Norway just over two weeks ago, and I am beginning to schedule my travels around the country, as school comes back into session. I hope that any ungdomsskole teacher reading this will be sure to find out more by clicking this link to my info page on the Fulbright site.

It is an amazing privilege to be a part of this program, and to have the time and space away from my regular teaching schedule at Portland State to read and reflect on teaching, American cultural imperialism, and the transformative possibilities of music in high school humanities education (among other things!)

I’ll try to keep this blog alive, but I will certainly make more regular updates to my Facebook and Instagram pages, so go ahead and follow me there if you’d like to know more!

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May 12, 2014 Update

Pelle's New Suit by Elsa Beskow, 1912

1. (Featured) Good news

2. (Reading) Shelley Nickles. “More is Better: Mass Consumption, Gender, and Class Identity in Postwar America.” American Quarterly 54.4 (2002): 581-622.

3. (Listening) Beyoncé s/t

4. (Reading) Dan Butin, “There’s No App for Ending Racism: Theorizing the Civic in the Age of Disruption”

5. (Reading) Stephen Valocchi, Social Movements and Activism in the U.S.A.

6. (Reading and listening) Colloquial Norwegian

7. (Reading) Eileen Zurbriggen and Tomi-Ann Roberts The Sexualization of Girls and Girlhood: Causes, Consequences and Resistance.

8. (Reading) Rain City Rock Camp Ladies Rock Camp United We Band Tour Guide

9. (Reading) Elsa Beskow, Pelle’s New Suit

10. (Reading) Jillian Hernandez “‘Miss, You Look Like a Bratz Doll’: On Chonga Girls and Sexual-Aesthetic Excess” NWSA Journal 2009, Vol. 21, No. 3 (Fall).

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April 2, 2014 Update

The Poky Little Puppy, illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren, 1942

1. (Conversing with) Dodie Stevens, who had a hit in 1959 with the song “Pink Shoelaces”

2. (Listening) Laverne Baker “Jim Dandy to the Rescue”

3. (Reading) ‘Don We Now Our Gay Apparel’: Gay Men’s Dress in the Twentieth Century ed. Shaun Cole

4. (Reading) Gay New York by George Chauncey

5. (Reading) Homeward Bound by Emily Matchar

6. (Reading) What the Music Said: Black Popular Music and Black Public Culture by Mark Anthony Neal

7. (Reading) Stir It Up: Lessons in Community Organizing and Advocacy by Rinku Sen

8. (Studying) Colloquial Norwegian

9. (Writing) a paper for Console-ing Passions about  “Pink Shoelaces,” age, race and sexuality.

10. (Reading) Tracks by Louise Erdrich

11. (Enjoying more upon every read) The Poky Little Puppy, by Janette Sebring Lowrey.

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March 10, 2014 Update

Eloise Wilkin from "Birds", 1958

1. (Visiting) Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington Headquarters

2. (Reading) Reinventing Project-Based Learning by Suzie Boss

3. (Reading) The World Split Open: How the Modern Women’s Movement Changed America by Ruth Rosen

4. (Watching) The story of the Amen Break

5. (Reading) Now You See It: How Technology and Brain Science Will Transform School and Business in the 21st Century by Cathy N. Davidson

6. (Visiting) Various Portland Montessori schools

7. (Responding) 30th High School Reunion invitation

8. (Watching) 20 Feet from Stardom

9.(Watching) Bruce Springstein covering Lorde’s “Royals” in Aukland

10. (Reading) The Future of Thinking: Learning Institutions in a Digital Age by Cathy N. Davidson and David Theo Goldberg

11. (Revisiting) bell hooks Teaching to Transgress

12. (Listening) Girl Pharrell Williams

13. (Reading) FAQs about what adjuncts do when there is a faculty strike at PSU.

14. (Managing) Poetry Out Loud, state competitions for the national poetry recitation contest  — open to all high school students in the state.

15. (Reading) Birds illustrated by Eloise Wilkin

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Feb 20, 2014 update

Umbrella by Taro Yashima, 1958.

1. Reading: Michelle Habell-Pallán “’Death to Racism and Punk Revisionism’: Alice Bag’s Vexing Voice and the Unspeakable Influence of the Canción Ranchera on Hollywood Punk” in Pop When the World Falls Apart: Music in the Shadow of Doubt, ed. Eric Weisbard.

2. Watching: YouTube video of Lucha Reyes, “Ay Jalisco No Te Rajes” (1941)

3. Watching: YouTube video of Yoko Ono covering “Fireworks” by Katy Perry

4. Listening: Pharrell Williams (pls. issue me a late pass)

5. (Re-) Reading: Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye

6. Reading: Article in the Atlantic from Oct 2013 by Amanda Ripley “How Sports Are Ruining High School: The Real Reason U.S Students are Falling Behind”

7. Also from the Atlantic, Oct. 2013, “High-School Sports Aren’t Killing Academics” (Research shows that schools with strong athletic programs have higher test scores and lower drop-out rates) by Daniel Bowen and Collin Hitt.

8. Reading: Article by Daphne Brooks “”The Write to Rock: Racial Mythologies, Feminist Theory and the Pleasures of Rock Music Criticism”

9. Watching: House of Cards

10. Reading: Midterm exams

11. Reading: Umbrella by Taro Yashima, 1958. Also see Crow Boy.

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February 7, 2014 Update

I thought I might create an update in the form of a list.

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

1. (Reading) Hear Our Truths: The Creative Potential of Black Girlhood (Dissident Feminisms) by Ruth Nicole Brown

2. (Watching) The PBS Newshour, Broad City, the Olympics, the Kroll Show, KGW Weather reports.

3. (Reading) Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World by Tony Wagner

4. (Listening) Molly Drake

5. (Reading) My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor

6. (Reading) The Big Lie: Motherhood, Feminism and the Reality of the Biological Clock by Tanya Selvaratnam

7. (Reading) On Critical Pedagogy by Henry Giroux

8. (Listening) The Haden Triplets

9. (Watching) Dodie Stevens on the Pat Boone Chevy Showroom, Dec. 31 1959.

10. (Reading/Looking) Rookie, Elevating Childcare, The French Revolution Digital Archive, Alternative careers for academics, National Association of Independent Schools

11. (Listening) Penelope by Sarah Kirkland Snider

12. (Reading) Cheap Amusements:Working Women & Leisure in Turn-of-the-Century New York by Kathy Pleiss

13. (Reading) The Snowy Day, Ezra Jack Keats

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Going to Bahrain

Together with Beth Wooten and Nadia Buyse, I will be going as a guest of the U.S. Embassy in Bahrain for ten days the summer of 2013, where we will lead a music camp for Bahraini girls.

I am happy to report that we will also be doing a series of talks and panel discussions in Portland about the experience when we return in the fall, thanks to a grant from the Regional Arts and Culture Council.

We will keep you posted!

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A Girl’s Work is Never Done

I’m presenting a paper at the IASPM-US on the Chordettes and other early 50s girl singer groups. Here’s the song that inspired the paper.

And here is the abstract:

“A Girl’s Work is Never Done”: Girls on the Edges of Rebellion

Before the hey-day of girl groups in the late 1950s, there were a number of groups – the Chordettes and the McGuire Sisters, for example – that had a brief flurry of popularity at a transitional moment for popular music. More Lawrence Welk than Alan Freed, these acts were white, and often from small towns or suburbs in the Midwestern U.S., reflecting in their performance styles and appearances a link to female musical aesthetic that showed up most plainly in sister acts of the 1940s. The sound would remain popular through the 1950s, as such groups found their way to popularity in part through the television program Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts. Warwick (2008), Stras (2010) and Stos (2012) all explore the ways that later girl groups reflect ideals and anxieties about girlhood, race and class, as well as teen girls’ identity formation through the creation and consumption of this music. These groups, I argue, reflect a different, but related set of concerns. Although they predate the girl group phenomenon and are generally characterized as “vocal groups” or “girl singers” they prefigure the rise of music specifically targeted at teens, and reflect an image that bears a close resemblence to young, white middle- and working- class wives following World War II (many of whom were, in fact, teenagers). Their lack of overt rebellion has rendered them invisible to both music and feminist critics, yet their music and performance styles reflect an important transitional moment for women (and girls) engaging in the public sphere of popular music.

And here is a little more about IASPM-US

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Fin de Siècle out now!

A recording of my piece, Fin de Siècle, with words by Leslie Scalapino is now available on iTunes, and streaming on SoundCloud:

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“Women Make Noise” coming out in September

I book I contributed to is coming out in September. Here is a blurb from the publisher. I like how they characterize Bjork and Beth Ditto as “household names.”


Girl Bands From The Modettes To The Modern

by Julia Downes

As more and more female solo artists hit the mainstream the question arises: where are the girl bands? Why aren’t they getting the attention they deserve?

While the media continues to ignore them, in Women Make Noise Julia Downes invites musicians, promoters and high profile artists to discuss their favourite girl bands: not the type who sing along to backing tracks: the real musicians, who can actually play their instruments. Including interviews with classic punk groups like The Raincoats and The Slits, as well as household names like Bjork and Beth Ditto, this timely celebration of the best female bands will show magazines like NME that ignoring girl bands is a major oversight.

Link is here.

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