Music for Girls: Women's Knowledge Cultures of Popular Music
- Start date: 1 February 2022
- End date: 31 July 2023
- Funder: Arts and Humanities Research Council
- Primary investigator: Dr Mimi Haddon, University of Sussex
- Co-investigators: Professor Bethany Klein
Partners and collaborators
The Museum of Ordinary People
In the public imaginary, the figure of the popular music expert is nearly always male.
So strong is the male expert stereotype that it has been successfully and humorously parodied in popular culture from Nick Hornby's High Fidelity to the "mansplaining" proprietor of the guitar shop to the sneering judge of the television talent contest.
Using this as our point of departure, Music for Girls aims to challenge preconceived understandings of what it is to "know" about music.
It takes seriously a question raised by musicologist Steve Waksman in a 2017 essay collection. He asked, "what happens if we consider a 12-year-old girl's collection of N'Sync albums and other items as a significant form of recording collecting" and, we might add, of knowledge acquisition?
By employing feminist archiving practices and drawing from ethnographies of musical taste, our network brings together scholars from a range of disciplines, members of the public, curators, and music industry personnel to foreground and analyse women's knowledge cultures of popular music.
We will be creating space for women to articulate their relationships to music: ways of listening to and knowing about popular music that have been rendered silent in academic conversations, in the media, and in our own experiences in the classroom.
We will foreground women's listening to and modes of engagement with popular music, which are currently poorly understood, and we will intervene epistemologically, challenging the very idea of knowledge, by moving from notions of rational knowledge about music (lists, dates, trivia) into embodied knowledge (dance, narrative, mediation).
Publications and outputs
- Music for Girls Online Symposium, May 2022
- Music for Girls exhibition, September 2022
- Conference to take place at the University of Sussex, June 2023