„We’re ugly, but we have the music“
Jewish Identity and Subcultural Developments between Civil Rights Movements and Punk 1967-1977
International Conference at Martin-Luther-University Halle (Germany)
April 22th -24th, 2010
Referring to Peter Bürgers “Theorie der Avantgarde” (1974) on one hand, following Greil Marcus’ “Lipstick Traces” (1989) on the other, the offspring of Punk in the mid 1970s can be regarded as a kind of critics and provocation, but also as a sort of continuation and development of the system and of the different subsystems of pop and rock as they have emerged from the 1960s. In addition to the formal innovation and provocations, Punk could also be seen as an reaction/answer to those impulses of emancipation, enlightenment and social reform which (influenced by the American Civil Rights Movement as well as by the social criticism of the so called Frankfurter Schule, women’s liberation movement and other reform movements e.g. ecology, gender mainstreaming ) accompanied the success of popular culture since the 1960s. One more point in this context, especially for German student’s movement around 1968, has been the reflection on the Nazi-time, a line of reflection which can also be found in comparable movements within other societies: neither English nor American musicians, writers or “underground” activists wanted to be the Nazis either.
Contrary to the above, the use and representation of Nazi symbols within the Punk scenes of New York and London at the end of the 1970s can be seen not only as a kind of protest against the status and self-confidence of popular cultures and liberal “progressive” societies at large (cf. Beeber 2008), but as a double provocation, not the least because a lot of these bearers of Nazi symbols belonged to Jewish families and responded with these signs to their family histories. Referring to this background Pop and Punk, popular cultures and elaborated Avant-garde are readable as patterns of working and reflecting on those traumata, namely the Shoah, in which Jewish history and experience within the 20th century culminated even in third generation. These impulses too show themselves as constraints and criticism of representations and reflections of the past, as they had been established and had been handled by the “establishment” so far.
This is the point, where the conference starts. As the field is very wide, a lot of different approaches, topics and examples are possible and welcome. Due to the explorative character of the conference, contributions from different fields and on different themes are explicitly invited.
The following topics should/could be under consideration:
· From Civil Rights Movement to punk: theoretical frameworks and approaches to the history of Jewish identity and experience within the western societies in 20th century
· Pop-culture and subcultures: sub-cultural surroundings and dominant frameworks (local scenes, connecting structures, global orientations, comparative studies)
· Case studies concerned with biographies of individuals, bands, stars, producers and other people acting in this field (from Lou Reed, Bob Dylan and Patti Smith to Leonard Cohen and Jonathan Richman, Debbie Harry and Serge Gainsbourgh)
· Media of expression: Interference between different art, music, other audio, literary, visual and other forms of expression concerned with Nazi-time within and around Jewish experience; movies and other forms of electronic media
· Pop-culture and the Shoah: references, phases, frameworks, situations and perspectives
Contribution announcements/offers (working title and abstract up to 250 words) are invited until August 20th, 2009 and should be sent to:
Prof. Dr. Werner Nell; Chair of Comparative Literature and Culture Studies. Martin-Luther-University Halle (Germany): firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Peter Waldmann; Institute of General and Comparative Literature. Johannes-Gutenberg-University Mainz (Germany):p_m_Waldmann22@yahoo.de
Jonas Engelmann M.A.; Ventil Verlag Mainz (Germany) email@example.com
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