Music for Girls: Women's Knowledge Cultures of Popular Music

Partners and collaborators

The Museum of Ordinary People

A tape cassette case with 'Musics for Girls' written on it


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

Project website