Listening Again to Popular Music as History (CfA, Deadline: Sept. 2018)

Jeffrey H. Jackson and Stanley C. Pelkey open their collection, Music and History (subtitle ‘Bridging the Disciplines’, 2005) by asking: ‘Why haven’t historians and musicologists been talking to one another?’  They suggest that at the heart of this absence is a problem of communication, concerning the distinct methods, knowledge and skills employed in both disciplines: does one need to be able to read, play or even ‘appreciate’ music for instance in order to make sense of it historically? On the other hand, do musicologists need an understanding of historiography to write histories of music? The issue for scholars in both disciplines is the status of the musical object: how to account for music as music, without losing a sense of its historical specificity.

Submissions are invited for a special edition of Popular Music History that aims to listen again to popular music as historical source and to (re) consider the relationship of popular music and historical method. The purpose of this special edition is to explore the range of practices concerned with history, heritage and memory in music cultures. We seek to understand what kind of ideas about the past they express and how they might expand our understanding of popular music as source for historical understanding – about the music and its relation to the wider cultural and social world. In particular, we are interested in placing music qua music at the centre of our investigation, exploring the manner in which musical sounds – and the forms by which they come to us – might be understood as historical sources.

We are interested in papers that address (but are not limited to) the following themes:

  • Popular music as historical source
  • Time, duration and popular music
  • The materiality of popular music sounds and artefacts
  • Mentalités of modernity and popular music
  • Retrieving historical acts of hearing and listening/historicizing hearing and listening
  • The function of popular music as historical referent
  • Understanding the historical moment(s) of popular music as music
  • Beyond popular
  • music as soundtrack
  • Archival sound
  • Writing histories with music
  • recordings and performance
  • Locating music in other historiographies

We are particularly interested in submissions that reflect on historiographical questions in response to the themes set out above and welcome engagement from specialists outside of the field of popular music scholarship.

Submission Process

In the first instance prospective contributors should send to the editors abstracts of 700 words with an indicative bibliography by 30 September 2018. Prospective contributors will be invited to participate in an online symposium to discuss the themes of the special edition that will take place in November 2018. The deadline for a first draft of full submissions is 1 July 2019.

Submissions will be reviewed by the editors of the special edition and subject to the regular journal process of peer review. Feedback on submissions will be distributed in November 2019 with reviews completed and approved final submission in March 2020. Publication of the special edition will be in May 2020.

Editors: Nicholas Gebhardt and Paul Long
Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research
Birmingham City University

Submissions and enquiries should be directed to both editors:
Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research
Birmingham School of Media
Birmingham City University
B4 7BD

Cite this blog post
PAUL LONG (2018, May 12). Listening Again to Popular Music as History (CfA, Deadline: Sept. 2018). PopHistory. Retrieved June 24, 2024, from


Paul Long is Professor and Media and Cultural History in the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research, Birmingham City University, UK. He is currently researching the relationship of Student Unions and popular music culture in post-war Britain and writing a book on popular music heritage, memory and the archive. He is a trustee of the Media Archive of Central England and is particularly interested in the political economy of the archive and the affective dimensions of the archivist’s role.

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