CFP: Romanticism and Heavy Metal

CFP: Romanticism and Heavy Metal

The editors Julian Knox and James Rovira welcome chapter proposals for the forthcoming anthology Romanticism and Heavy Metal. Like the collections Rock and Romanticism: Blake, Wordsworth, and Rock from Dylan to U2 (Lexington 2018), Rock and Romanticism: Post-Punk, Goth, and Metal as Dark Romanticisms (Palgrave Macmillan 2018), David Bowie and Romanticism (Palgrave Macmillan 2022), and Women in Rock, Women in Romanticism (Routledge 2022), Romanticism and Heavy Metal seeks to interpret heavy metal as a cultural, artistic, and musical phenomenon using the historical insights and theoretical tools provided by the study of Romanticism. 

As in previous collections, “Romanticism” is broadly conceived as a cultural, literary, artistic, philosophical, and musical movement first identified and named in the late eighteenth century without being limited in scope to that period. As a result, the relationship between metal and Romanticism should not be considered only in terms of influence: metal is or can be Romanticism in the present. “Heavy metal” is conceived as a late twentieth-century world musical phenomenon inclusive of a wide array of sub- and micro-genres that has its origins in the sonic and thematic innovations of 1960s and 70s bands such as Iron Butterfly, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Judas Priest, and Metallica that continues into the present.

Chapters considering historically significant heavy metal bands that engage with Romantic works and themes are welcome, as are analyses of Romanticism in relation to metal subgenres including, but not limited to, doom metal, black metal, death metal, thrash, grindcore, folk metal, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, power metal, and noise.

Contributors seeking to define Romanticism outside of its usual eighteenth- to nineteenth-century periodization are encouraged, but not required, to consult Romanticism Against the Tide of Modernity by Robert Sayre and Michael Löwy (2001). Chapter topics might include, but are not limited to, 

  • Romantic Satanism and heavy metal
  • Romantic paganism and heavy metal
  • Green Romanticism and heavy metal
  • Brown Romanticism and heavy metal
  • Individual author / painter / musician / band / album / music video comparisons
  • Nineteenth-century musical Romanticism and heavy metal
  • Romantic folk traditions and folk metal
  • Working class Romanticism and metal
  • Romantic celebrity and heavy metal 
  • Adaptations of Romantic texts in heavy metal albums
  • Romantic visual art as album art
  • Romanticism, metal, and political/social/environmental action
  • Reception studies and fan communities
  • Representations of apocalypse, post-apocalypse, and the world without us

Chapter proposals should be approximately 500 words in length, demonstrate familiarity with scholarship in both Romanticism and heavy metal, and should be accompanied by a one-page CV. 

Please email all proposal materials by February 2023 James Rovira at jamesrovira at gmail dot com

If you need flexibility with proposal or chapter deadlines, please describe your needs in an email. 

Women in Rock, Women in Romanticism Now Available from Routledge

Women in Rock, Women in Romanticism (Routledge 2022) is the first book-length work to explore the interrelationships among contemporary female musicians and eighteenth- and nineteenth-century art, music, and literature by women and men. The art, music, and videos of contemporary artists including Erykah Badu, Beyoncé, The Carters, Missy Elliot, the Indigo Girls, Janet Jackson, Janis Joplin (and Big Brother and the Holding Company), Natalie Merchant, Joni Mitchell, Janelle Monáe, Alanis Morrisette, Siouxsie Sioux, Patti Smith, St. Vincent (Annie Clark), and Alice Walker are explored through the lenses of the pastoral, Afropresentism, the Gothic, male and female Gothic, and the music and literature of Hélène Cixous, William Blake, Beethoven, Arthur Schopenhauer, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Charlotte Dacre, Ralph Waldo Emerson, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Ann Radcliffe, William Shakespeare, Mary Shelley, her husband Percy Shelley, Henry David Thoreau, Horace Walpole, Jane Williams, Mary Wollstonecraft, and William Wordsworth to explore how each sheds light on the other, and how women have appropriated, responded to, and been inspired by the work of authors from previous centuries.

Contributors to Women in Rock, Women in Romanticism (Routledge 2022) participated in a virtual book launch on Saturday, November 19th, 2022. You can meet the contributors and listen to them discuss their chapters here:

Table of Contents

Introduction, James Rovira

1. Are Women in Rock also Women in Romanticism?, James Rovira

2. Jane Williams, Rolling Stone: Reconstructing British Romanticism’s Guitar God(dess), Rebecca Nesvet

3. “Work Me, Lord”: Janis Joplin’s Kozmic Blues, Sasha Tamar Strelitz

4. “All Romantics Meet the Same Fate Someday”: Joni Mitchell, Blue, and Romanticism, Christopher R. Clason

5. “There is no pure evil, nor pure good, only purity”: William Blake’s and Patti Smith’s Art as Opposition to Societal Boundaries. Alicia Carpenter

6. “A Woman with an Attitude”: Male and Female Gothic in Siouxsie and the Banshees, Diana Edelman

7. “Our Generation”: Gender, Regeneration and Women in Rock, Linda C. Middleton

8. “Laughing with a Mouth of Blood”: St. Vincent’s Gothic Grotesque, Sherry R. Truffin

9. “I can’t believe we made it”: Romanticism and Afropresentism in Works of African American Female Hip Hop and R‘n’B Artists, Kirsten Zemke

Index

If you’d like to support the author, purchase a copy directly from him through PayPal

9781003204855.indd

Women In Rock, Women in Romanticism

Women in Rock. Women in Romanticism (Routledge, 2022) is the first book-length work exploring the interrelationships among contemporary women rock musicians and eighteenth- and nineteenth-century art and literature, the literature of the Romantic era. LIMITED QUANTITIES ONLY available at a 37% discount.

$100.00

Virtual Book Launch Women in Rock, Women in Romanticism

I’m pleased to announce the publication of Women in Rock, Women in Romanticism (Routledge, 2022), which is the first book-length work to explore the interrelationships among contemporary female musicians and eighteenth- and nineteenth-century art, music, and literature by women and men. The music and videos of contemporary musicians including Erykah Badu, Beyoncé, The Carters, Missy Elliot, the Indigo Girls, Janet Jackson, Janis Joplin (and Big Brother and the Holding Company), Natalie Merchant, Joni Mitchell, Janelle Monáe, Alanis Morrisette, Siouxsie Sioux, Patti Smith, St. Vincent (Annie Clark), and Alice Walker are explored through the lenses of pastoral and Afropresentism, Hélène Cixous, Gothic, male and female Gothic, and the literature of William Blake, Beethoven, Arthur Schopenhauer, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Charlotte Dacre, Ralph Waldo Emerson, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Ann Radcliffe, William Shakespeare, Mary Shelley, her husband Percy Shelley, Henry David Thoreau, Horace Walpole, Jane Williams, Mary Wollstonecraft, and William Wordsworth to explore how each sheds light on the other and how women have appropriated, responded to, and been inspired by the work of authors from previous centuries.

You can read more about the book here.

https://www.routledge.com/Wom…/Rovira/p/book/9781032069845

I will be hosting a virtual book launch this coming Saturday, November 19th from noon to 3:00 p.m. ET (we’re off Daylight Savings Time now, -5 UTC). The book launch will be held simultaneously on Zoom and on Instagram live streaming at the account rock.and.romanticism:

https://www.instagram.com/rock.and.romanticism/

The lineup is as follows.

If you’d like to attend on Zoom, please email me privately for the session login. Feel free to promote the session on social media and elsewhere.

11:55-12:10 – Jim Rovira introducing the book and session.

12:10-12:30 – Alicia Carpenter on William Blake and Patti Smith

12:30-12:50 – Rebecca Nesvet on Jane Williams and the figure of the rolling stone

12:50-1:10 – Sasha Strelitz on Janis Joplin and “electric Romanticism.”

1:10-1:30 – Christopher Clason – on Joni Mitchell and German Romanticism

1:30-1:50 – Diana Edelman – on Siouxsie Sioux and the male/female Gothic

1:50-2:10 – Sherry Truffin on St. Vincent, the Gothic, and the grotesque

2:10-2:30 – Kristen Zemke on Romanticism and Afropresentism in Erykah Badu, Missy Elliott, and Beyonce

2:30-2:50 – Sherry Truffin interviews Jim Rovira on Schopenhauer, music, and women in German Romanticism, and the extension of that topic to the study of British Romanticism and women in rock.

Each section will reserve five minutes at the end for questions.

Bowie the Rebel and Romantic Typology

In a culture generally unaccustomed to theatrical displays of male plumage, the glittered, feathered, frequently half-naked David Bowie of the glam rock 1970s presented an affront to traditional notions of gendered norms, introducing instances of “gender expression” some forty years avant la lettre. Fast-forward to the relatively conventional final decades of Bowie’s private life, and his legacy takes on a sort of prismatic function, separating into strategic deployments of gender, sexuality, and desire that both piqued and provoked the public, disrupting notions about masculinity, desirability, the function of the artist, and the future of mankind.

Samuel Lyndon Gladden, David Bowie and Romanticism, p. 163

One perhaps lesser-known synchrony between the Romantic era, especially British Romanticism, and the rock and roll era is celebrity culture. Celebrity culture magnifies the personal lives of famous individuals to international importance. Often tied to scandalous behavior, figures who become famous for writing poetry or recording rock songs soon become famous for being an object of gossip and then, eventually, famous for being famous.

Figures in this position soon learn how to leverage it further through affairs, gossip, and outrageous behavior. Celebrity culture as we understand it today originates in the Romantic era, most notably (but not solely) with George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824). During his own time, Byron was infamous for being “mad, bad, and dangerous to know”: he had a number of famous affairs that eventually drove him from mainland England to the European continent for the remainder of his life. The most famous (but least likely) of these affairs was with his half sister Augusta Leigh; his ex-wife Anne Isabella Milbanke (Annabella) spread the rumor aggressively, finding it very easy to think the worst about him.

Byron, for his part, did little to suppress these rumors and in fact seemed to play them up, indulging in teasing references to incest in his play Cain. Byron’s dialog imagines a twin sister Adah born alongside Adam and Eve’s first son, Cain. Byron here spells out the implications of a Genesis narrative in which all human beings were sons and daughters of Adam and Eve: by necessity, brothers married sisters. Adah, hearing from Lucifer that these marriages would be condemned in the future, is shocked:

Adah.‍ But all we know of it has gathered / Evil on ill; expulsion from our home, / And dread, and toil, and sweat, and heaviness; / Remorse of that which was—and hope of that / Which cometh not. Cain! walk not with this Spirit. / Bear with what we have borne, and love me—I Love thee.

Lucifer.‍ More than thy mother, and thy sire?

Adah. I do. Is that a sin, too?

Lucifer.‍ No, not yet; It one day will be in your children.

Adah.‍ What! Must not my daughter love her brother Enoch?

Lucifer. Not as thou lovest Cain.

Byron is, to say the least, being unhelpful if he wants to defuse scandal and rumors. But he does not. Confronted with a dumpster fire, Byron brings the gas can.

Other aspects of celebrity culture involve the visual representation of the celebrity in culture. Both Byron and Bowie were famous for publicly disseminated images; we could even say the variety of paintings of Byron could represent personas in a way parallel to Bowie’s numerous personas adopted through the 1970s.

Rock music transformed the male gaze of traditional western culture from a gaze upon women’s bodies to a gaze upon men: men became dandies, wore makeup, suddenly cared about clothing beyond generic expressions of masculinity which, in turn, upset gender norms. The scandalous celebrity benefiting and suffering from celebrity culture invariably became a rebel.

Samuel Lyndon Gladden in “‘Rebel Rebel’: Bowie as Romantic ‘Type,'” chapter 8 of David Bowie and Romanticism, argues that during the era of Bowie’s superstardom (which, for Gladden, begins in the 1980s with Bowie’s best-selling album, Let’s Dance), “Bowie remains constantly visible and cycles through artistic phases in rapid succession” (p. 167).

Check out the iTunes playlist for David Bowie and Romanticism.

Bowie’s superstardom moves through three distinct phases in Gladden’s chapter: a heteronormative era during which he is accused of selling out (1980s); an era of experimental work and early adoption of new musical styles (1990s); and a third era of discovery (2000s). Each of these have their parallels in Romantic era literature.

You can read more in David Bowie and Romanticism. Order it from the Bookstore or have your local, college, or university library order it.

Samuel Lyndon Gladden serves as Professor of English and Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Education, and Human Development at the University of New Orleans. He has published widely on key figures in nineteenth-century British literature with books on Percy Shelley and Oscar Wilde and articles on Mary Shelley, Wilkie Collins, Bram Stoker, and others.

When David Bowie Fell to Earth

Newton’s mission clearly suggests a Romantic “return to origins,” specifically the pastoral origins of a lost homeland, so as to redirect his profits toward reviving a dying community that will presumably be founded on use rather than exchange values for his alien race and earthly allies. This restorative vision also would allow the fulfillment of a Romantic selfhood, a full realization of an inner life and agency that would no longer be divided by economic subjectivization.

William Levine, David Bowie and Romanticism, p. 88

David Bowie’s acting career extends to 37 appearances in film and television alone, not counting theater roles. That number covers numerous supporting parts, of course, but a number of leading ones as well. His two most important leading film roles were in Nicholas Roeg’s 1976 film The Man Who Fell to Earth as Thomas Jerome Newton and Jim Henson’s 1986 Labyrinth as Jareth, the Goblin King. I’m happy to say that David Bowie and Romanticism has chapters dedicated to both films; I would have felt that the book was incomplete without covering at least both of them.

Check out the iTunes playlist for David Bowie and Romanticism.

One idea that surfaced in both chapters is how strongly Bowie’s public persona intruded on the films through these roles. There’s something a bit obvious about casting Bowie as an alien because his first musical persona was Ziggy Stardust. It complicates our reading of the film, inviting us to read the film as commentary on Bowie’s career as much as an artistic statement in its own right. The film’s title also invites a comparison with Bowie’s 1970 song, “The Man Who Sold the World.” The man who sold the world is a reference to Lucifer’s third temptation of Christ, who offered Christ all the kingdoms of the world if he would bow down and worship him. Similarly, the man who fell to Earth, representing a fall from the sky, invokes Lucifer as well as an alien, both fallen beings in both a material and a moral sense. Lucifer was cast out of heaven; Thomas Jerome Newton came to Earth to rescue his arid homeworld from drought but then never left; and then David Bowie, during the making of this film, was nearing the end of his first stay in America. Verging on cocaine psychosis, if not falling in and out of it, at one point his weight dropped to only 90 lbs. because he was living on a diet of milk and peppers and hardly sleeping. Bowie fell to America the way Lucifer and Newton fell to Earth. Before the end of 1976 he left America for Europe to escape the ready availability of drugs and to save his own life.

William Levine’s “Capitalist Co-optation, Romantic Resistance, and Bowie’s Allegorical Performance in Nicholas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth,” chapter 5 of David Bowie and Romanticism, is a sophisticated close reading of the film and its intersections with Bowie’s public persona and Romantic themes and images. Levine writes about “capitalist co-optation” in the film because Thomas Jerome Newton’s goal to save his homeworld requires him to secure a number of patents that make him a very wealthy man, give him access to Earth’s industrial capabilities, and make him a threat to established corporations that ultimately cause his downfall.

In Levine’s words, “Newton commands the regime of modernity even more decisively than its major corporations.” But by the end of the film, in Bowie’s words, “Newton has ‘actually found some sort of real emotional drive; he knows what it is to relate to people.'” He has transcended his capitalist, opportunistic, and exploitative goals to form relationships with people on Earth, however doomed they were to fail.

You can read all of Levine’s chapter in the book, of course, which you can purchase through the Bookstore or request for your local, college, or university library.

William Levine regularly teaches courses in the literature of jazz and the blues, philosophy and literature, and the history of literary criticism at Middle Tennessee State University. He has published articles on almost every major English poet and literary critic from Pope to Anna Barbauld and Coleridge, and his current work on the literature of jazz and the blues is informed by many years spent as a jazz journalist producing radio interviews and writing for urban arts weeklies.

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