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Conversations on Europe. "Genre Trouble: Women in First-Wave British Punk."

Thursday, March 8, 2012
12:00 AM
1636 International Institute/SSWB, 1080 S. University.

The lecture will examines how punk challenged and redefined conventional gender stereotypes in popular culture.

Karen Fournier faculty member in the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, where she teaches classes in music theory and popular music. She is currently engaged in a book-length project on British punk entitled  Punk and Disorderly: Acting Out Gender and Class in Early British Punk, from which this talk is excerpted.
"Genre Trouble" will examine female participation in the British punk scene in the mid-1970s. Situating punk in the broader historical frame of the period, it demonstrates how British punk differed from its American counterpart as a reaction to the class oppression experienced by those who bore the greatest financial burden during that decade’s recession. Having established the difference between these cultural threads, "Genre Trouble" then addresses British female punk as a strand of the genre that sought to resist classism from a particular gendered standpoint. The title of the talk, a play on Judith Butler’s famous feminist tract, suggests that while women seemed to be allowed to contribute freely to punk, their contributions often uncovered gender biases that were concealed within the scene and that reflected male hegemony in mainstream culture more broadly. Contrasts between male and female punk as sites of resistance will be illustrated with reference to punk artwork and fashion, and with musical examples drawn from such mixed-gender or all-female punk bands as Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Slits, and X-Ray Spex.