Rock and Romanticism: Post-Punk, Goth, and Metal as Dark Romanticisms

Cover Image, Rock and Romanticism: Post-Punk, Goth, and Metal as Dark Romanticisms
Cover photo: Taylor Fickes

Rock and Romanticism: scholarship with a soundtrack. Yes, I have two anthologies with the main title Rock and Romanticism. The first was published early February 2018 by Lexington Books, and was focused on Blake and Wordsworth and, very generally, the genre of classic rock.

This second book is Rock and Romanticism: Post-Punk, Goth, and Metal as Dark Romanticisms (Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming late May 2018) and is focused just where the title implies: on the gothic or “dark Romanticism” as it is sometimes called and on its musical counterparts in rock. The first book states a thesis about the relationship between rock and roll and Romanticism. This book restates that thesis and then extends it to different genres of music and literature.

This page provides chapter descriptions and a lot more. If you liked the first book, you’ll like this one too: those interested in one really need to get both. If you’re drawn to this project, please consider requesting that your libraries order it. A more formal description of the project follows.

Because I’ve recently published two edited anthologies with the same top title, I’ve created this video explaining the origin of these books and the differences between the two:

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The edited anthology Rock and Romanticism: Post-Punk, Goth, and Metal as Dark Romanticisms (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018) is now available for preorder on the publisher’s website and will ship in late May 2018. I’m providing information here for potential readers, reviewers, and college and university librarians who may be interested in this book. If you wish to review this anthology for your publication, please contact James Rovira at jamesrovira@gmail.com with your name, credentials, and the name of the publication for which you wish to review this work.

But I’d like to provide a bit of personal history before I get into details about the book: my introduction to English Romanticism (my first way in to the vast labyrinth that is “Romanticism”) occurred in two stages. First, through the song “William Blake” on the Daniel Amos album Vox Humana (1984). That song made me run to the local B. Dalton Booksellers (remember those?) to pick up a copy of The Viking Portable William Blake.

I read it through the first time, cover to cover, in a befuddled haze, but I loved it. Daniel Amos, “William Blake,” Vox Humana:

Next, when my undergraduate English Romantics professor at Rollins College, Dr. Roy Starling, wanted to explain to his students what the publication of Lyrical Ballads meant to the 1790s, he compared it to this moment in rock history, the moment when Bob Dylan the folk singer plugged in and went electric:

And that was how I first understood Romanticism as a literary phenomenon. Thank you, Dr. Starling. In both cases, my way in to Romanticism was rock music from the 1960s to the 1980s.

Rock and Romanticism: Post-Punk, Goth, and Metal as Dark Romanticisms explores the relationships among the musical genres of post-punk, goth, and metal and seventeenth- to nineteenth-century American and European Romanticisms in their literary, artistic, and musical expressions. It argues that these contemporary forms of music are not only influenced by but are an expression of Romanticism continuous with their seventeenth- through nineteenth-century influences. Figures such as Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Keats, Mary Shelley, Percy Shelley, Friedrich, Schlegel, Beethoven, and Hoffman are brought alongside the musical and visual aesthetics of the Rolling Stones, the New Romantics, the Pretenders, Joy Division, Nick Cave, Tom Verlaine, emo, Eminem, My Dying Bride, and Norwegian black metal to explore the ways that Romanticism continues into the present in its many varying forms and expressions. Book details:

Rock and Romanticism: Post-Punk, Goth, and Metal as Dark Romanticisms ~ James Rovira, ed. ~ Hardcover ISBN 978-3-319-72687-8 ~eBook ISBN 978-3-319-72688-5 ~ DOI10.1007/978-3-319-72688-5 ~ pp. 330 ~ hardcover: $109.00 (£80.00); ebook: $84.99 (£63.99). This collection is part of the series Palgrave Studies in Music and Literature, P. Lumsden and M. Katz Montiel, editors.

Chapters are listed below. Many and profuse thanks M. Katz Montiel for being a great series editor (he made every chapter better), to Palgrave Macmillan’s editorial team, and to Dr. Mark McCutcheon (see the Nick Cave chapter description) for his work assembling these playlists. After the Preface and Introduction, songs are arranged in the order in which they appear in the chapter.

I’ve created iTunes playlists for each chapter that are linked within chapter descriptions. Also check out the iTunes Master Playlist for this anthology that combines all available songs (over 200) and the Spotify Master Playlist.

Preface and Introduction: “Theorizing Rock/Historicizing Romanticism” James Rovira. Check out his iTunes profile.

  1. “Empathy for the Devil: The Origins of Mick Jagger’s Devil in John Milton’s London” (pp. 27-44) by Evan LaBuzetta, Ph.D., Cambridge University. Independent scholar, founder of Writling Language Consultants.
    • Chapter summary
      • Evan LaBuzetta’s “Empathy for the Devil: The Origins of Mick Jagger’s Devil in John Milton’s London” analyzes the political discourse and outlines the discursive practices that influenced John Milton in his development of the character of Satan in Paradise Lost. Milton’s Satan was reinterpreted by the Romantics and later appropriated by Mick Jagger in “Sympathy for the Devil.” According to LaBuzetta, the rise of personal interpretation of Scripture in an era of vicious conflict led various combatants in the English Civil Wars to identify their domestic opponents with Satan. In pamphlets, writers could insist on their opponents’ Satanic origins regardless of outward appearance—because Satan can transform himself into an “angel of light”—while at the same time positing their own demonization as a sign of the righteousness of their cause. Through the English Civil Wars, rebellion against civil authority came to be seen as different than rebellion against God, establishing a “paradox of individual authority” by the time of Milton’s writing. Once God is dethroned as a “self-justifying principle,” a writer like Shelley could thrill to the active, virile, self-confident aspects of Satan’s character and declare that Milton’s Satan is far preferable to Milton’s God. Milton anthropomorphized Satan, and later readers came to see him in personal, non-religious terms: as a heroic individual striving against a tyrannical, self-imposing force, one with whom readers or rock fans could empathize.
    • Music
    • Literature
    • Get the iTunes playlist
  2. “‘Bliss was it in that shirt to be alive’: Connecting Romanticism and New Romanticism Through Dress” (pp. 45-59) by Emily Bernhard Jackson, Lecturer, University of Exeter.
    • Chapter summary
      • Skipping ahead about ten years after the Stones expressed sympathy for the devil, Emily Bernhard-Jackson’s “The Semiotics of the Ruffled Shirt: Connecting Romanticism and New Romanticism” shifts focus from linguistic content to visual surfaces in her comparison of the New Romantics of the early 1980s to English Romantics such as Byron. Rejecting the assumption that the New Romantics were glib and apolitical, she asserts their carefully managed, glittering surfaces were acts of subversion within Thatcher’s England, and these rock stars’ androgyny and even specific fashion choices—such as the ruffled shirt—carefully and not just coincidentally parallel second generation English Romantics such as Byron. Fluidity of sexual identity served the purpose of resisting full industrialization during 1980s’ England in a way parallel to the poets’ resistance of incipient industrialism in Romantic England, making dandyism and glitter statements against the brutal grayness of the working-class employment described by Löwy and Sayre, a very observable “mechanized conquest of the environment” under industrialization.
    • Music
    • Literature
    • Get the iTunes playlist
  3. “‘Crying Like a Woman ‘Cause I’m Mad Like a Man’: Chrissie Hynde, Gender, and Romantic Irony” (pp. 61-82) by Sherry R. Truffin, Associate Professor of English, Campbell University.
  4. “A Northern ‘Ode on Melancholy’?—The Music of Joy Division” (pp. 83-100) by Caroline Langhorst, Ph.D Candidate, University of Mainz.
  5. “‘Little crimeworn histories’: Nick Cave and the Roots-Raves-Rehab Story of Rock Stardom” (pp. 101-120) by Mark McCutcheon, Professor of Literary Studies, Athabasca University. Check out his blog.
  6. “Postcards from Waterloo: Tom Verlaine’s Historical Constellations” (pp. 121-143) by Len von Morzé, Associate Professor of English, University of Massachusetts, Boston.
  7. “Manner, Mood, and Message: Bowie, Morrissey, and the Complex Legacy of Frankenstein” (pp. 145-161) by Samuel Lyndon Gladden, Associate Dean of the School of Human Sciences and Humanities and Professor of Literature, University of Houston, Clear Lake.
    • Chapter summary
      • Samuel Gladden shifts focus to monstrosity in “Manner, Mood, and Message: Bowie, Morrissey, and the Complex Legacy of Frankenstein.” He compares Bowie’s and Morrissey’s appropriations of the figure of Frankenstein’s Creature to explore their differing responses to isolation and loneliness. In Gladden’s account, Bowie focuses on the discardedness of the Creature as he adopts and discards personae just as Frankenstein abandoned his Creature. Bowie ultimately gathers up many of his previous personae in the song and video “Blackstar,” particularly his first personae, Major Tom, who allows Bowie to revisit the trope of being in an alien environment in anticipation of his own impending death. Morrissey, on the other hand, focuses his attention on the Frankensteinian themes of hybridity or bricolage in “November Spawned a Monster,” emphasizing that Morrissey adopted as his own the hybridity or bricolage associated with the Creature through a variety of personae with disabilities, all of them set within an “idealized past.” The disfigurements of the subject described by Löwy and Sayre, therefore, assume material form in Morrissey’s various personae.
    • Music
    • Literature
    • Get the iTunes playlist
  8. “Tales of the Female Lover: the Poetics of Desire in To Bring You My Love and Is This Desire?” (pp. 163-181) by Catherine Girodet, Ph.D. candidate Université Paul Valéry – Montpellier, and faculty, English Department, Universitie De Creteil.
  9. Emocosms: Mind-Forg’d Realities in Emo(tional) Rock Music” (pp. 183-197) by Eike Träger, Ph.D. candidate, University of Cologne, Köln, Germany.
  10. “‘I possess your soul, your mind, your heart, and your body’: External and Internal Gothic Hauntings in Eminem’s Relapse” (pp. 199-213) by Christopher Stampone, Ph.D., Southern Methodist University.
  11. “‘The Female Is Such Exquisite Hell’: The Romantic Agony of My Dying Bride” (pp. 215-233) by Matthew J. Heilman, Ph.D., Duquesne University.
  12. “Ashes Against the Grain: Black Metal and the Grim Rebirth of Romanticism” (pp. 235-257) by Julian Knox, Assistant Professor of English, Georgia College.

Bibliography (pp. 259-278)
Discography (pp. 279-284)
Index (pp. 285-302)

Cover photo: Taylor Fickes.

Errata: if you see any errors on this page or in the book, please email James Rovira.

Active CFPs, Rock and Romanticism

Following on the heels of the recently published Rock and Romanticism: Blake, Wordsworth, and Rock from Dylan to U2 (Lexington Books, February 2018) and the soon to be published Rock and Romanticism: Post-Punk, Goth, and Metal as Dark Romanticisms (Palgrave Macmillan, April 2018), I’ve issued two more CFPs for future Rock and Romanticism editions.

I’ve extended due dates, which will remain flexible. Click the link above to the Blake and Wordsworth edition if you’d like to see what a completed volume looks like.

Rock and Romanticism Blog Up

I’ve set up a blog for the edited anthology Rock and Romanticism: 

https://rockandromanticism.wordpress.com/ 

All future updates will be posted to the blog, which has the CFP, information for contributors, ideas for future papers, videos of the songs featured in the anthology (building that up now) and, soon to come, a contributor list and a music player. My two previous posts about the anthology are still available on this site, but that information has been updated and better organized on the new blog.

Mongolian Folk Metal: Tengger Cavalry

Yes, there is such a thing as Mongolian Folk Metal, and it is being performed by the band Tengger Cavalry. It’s post-Metallica heavy metal combined with Mongolian folk instrumentation, which gives the band a feel and sound something like Kansas or Yes playing heavy metal or Porcupine Tree with more diverse instrumentation. In the five songs I’ve listened to on their new album, Blood Sacrifice Shaman, there aren’t so much vocals as there are vocal stylizations: vocals are being used like another musical instrument. Seriously rocks, well put-together. Check it out. You can stream their entire album on the website linked above.

If you’d like to explore world folk metals, check out this video:

If anyone would like to write an essay about folk metal and Romanticism, check out the CFP.

CFP (Anthology): Rock and Romanticism

CFP: Rock and Romanticism

NOTES: 

  1. I have set up a blog dedicated to the Rock and Romanticism anthology: https://rockandromanticism.wordpress.com/. When this page is no longer pinned to the top of this blog, all future updates on the anthology will have been migrated to that location. 

2. The August 1st deadline for proposals has passed. However, I plan to send my first proposal out to a publisher by August 15th at the latest, so I can still accept proposals through August 8th. Please contact me by August 8th if you have an idea but cannot send me a proposal until after August 8th.

3. This page is continually being updated as I receive proposals or ideas for proposals. Please check the list below for topics covered. I am happy to accept more than one essay about the same figure, but of course these essays need to take different approaches. 

4. I was on the road from July 5th to July 14th. There may have been delays responding to your queries and proposals during that time. Please accept my apologies.  

The editor of Rock and Romanticism is soliciting essays about the ways in which rock music, broadly defined, expands, interprets, restates, and conflicts with Romanticism, broadly defined. “Rock music” as a category will be extended to include all popular music since the 1950s, including but not limited to rock, varieties of metal, R&B, soul, varieties of punk, folk, techno, progressive rock, indie, new wave, alternative, psychedelic, industrial, gothic, funk, country, and blues. If the music has been written or performed since the 1950s and you’re wondering if it fits, the answer is “yes.” [1] For the purposes of this study, “Romanticism” will also be broadly defined, considering trans-European, trans-Atlantic, and global Romanticisms as well as Romanticism in literature, art, and music.

You can see a list matching potential musicians and Romantic-era literary figures, a provisional bibliography, and a sense of how I’m theorizing Romanticism on the blog post “Romanticism and Rock.”

Papers might consider

  • women in rock and women in Romanticism;
  • lyric poetry and song lyrics or song lyrics as lyric poetry;
  • readings of rock and Romanticism that compare
    • conditions between Europe during the Napoleonic wars and conditions in the post-McCarthy era and/or post 9-11 United States,
    • the 1960s or later Ireland or the UK, or
    • 1960s or later continental Europe, including Eastern Europe and the Baltic states (any possible essays on Rammstein and Romanticism?);
  • the gothic in literature and in music;
  • opera and the rock opera;
  • drug use, drug literature, and drug music of the eighteenth, nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries;
  • the pastoral in Romantic literature and in rock music;
  • adaptations, interpretations, direct responses to, and performances of Romantic-era texts by twentieth-century and later musicians;
  • the figure of Satan in Romanticism and in rock;
  • protest literature and protest music;
  • sexual identity in Romanticism and rock.

Ideal papers will theorize or historicize their subjects in a way that places rock music in a coherent dialog with Romantic-era art, literature, or music, contributing to a consideration of the boundaries or definition(s) of “Romanticism” as an artistic mode while also considering the implications of chronological, national, social, sexual, and/or economic difference. Papers from contemporary artists/musicians reflecting upon the influence of Romantic-era art, literature, or music upon their work are also welcome.

Please email a 250-500 word proposal that includes your name, title, institutional affiliation (if applicable), mailing address, email address, and a brief, updated CV to jamesrovira@gmail.com by August 1st, 2015. Completed papers, which should be within the 5000-7000 word range, are expected by November 15, 2015.

You can see a list of artists and poets with a provisional bibliography on the blog post “Romanticism and Rock.”

I have received notice of interest or proposals for the following figures:

Musician/Artist Romantic Era Connection Status
The Beatles/Sgt. Pepper’s Wordsworth Proposal received and accepted
David Bowie, Ziggy Stardust Blake and Keats Proposal received and accepted
David Bowie and Brian Eno (late 70s) Wordsworth/Coleridge, Lyrical Ballads Proposal received and accepted
Nick Cave Romanticism/gothic and sublime Awaiting proposal
Nick Cave Romanticism/transgressive artist Proposal received and accepted
60s Dylan (not comprehensively) Blake and the Beat poets Proposal received and accepted
Dylan Keats and Shelley, or just Shelley Proposal received and accepted
Woody Guthrie, Ballads of Sacco and Vanzetti Theorizes Guthrie’s ballads using Sayre and Lowy’s “Figures of Romantic Anti-Capitalism” Proposal received and accepted.
The Herd (early Peter Frampton), perf. Paradise Lost Milton and Blake Proposal received and accepted.
Mick Jagger, 1969 Jagger reading Shelley’s Adonais Proposal received and accepted
Iron Maiden Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” Awaiting proposal
Aimee Mann Mann as a Romantic figure as theorized by Cavill Proposal received and accepted
Marilyn Manson’s Triptych Blake and Bryon Proposal received and accepted
Morrisey and Bowie Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein Proposal received and accepted
Norwegian Black Metal Primitivism/return to nature Awaiting proposal
The Pretenders, Pretenders William Blake, Vision of the Daughters of Albion, comparing female responses to male aggression and passivity. Proposal received and accepted.
Martha Redbone’s Roots Project William Blake Proposal received and accepted
Lou Reed, The Raven Edgar Allan Poe Proposal received and accepted
Rolling Stones, “Sympathy for the Devil” Milton’s Satan Awaiting proposal
Rush Rush and Romanticism Proposal received and accepted
U2, Songs of Innocence Blake Proposal received and accepted
U2, Songs of Innocence and Leonard Cohen Blake Proposal received and accepted
Van Morrison VM himself as a Romantic poet, comp. to several Romantic-era figures, particularly Blake Proposal received and accepted
Various: the 60s Various: the 60s as a Romantic era Proposal received and accepted
Various: 60’s era apocalypse Various: the Romantic era and apocalypse Proposal received and accepted
Various: 80s New Romanticism Various: English Romanticism Proposal received and accepted
Various: a contribution by the author/director of a staged version of Werther set to music by Lou Reed, Florence and the Machine, Rhianna, etc. Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther Proposal received and accepted.
Various: Pathetic fallacy in rock and Romanticism. AFI, Finch, La Dispute, etc. Various: Blake and Wordsworth Proposal received and accepted
Various: songs of the open road, including Joplin, Springsteen, Dylan, and Berry Various: Songs for the Open Road anthology Proposal received and accepted
Tom Verlaine/ post-punk Romantic-era responses to Napoleon Proposal received and accepted
Women in Rock (Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Stevie Nicks) Women in Romanticism (Mary Shelley and Charlotte and Emily Brontë) Proposal received and accepted
Neil Young and Jackson Browne These musicians as Romantic poets, compared to Blake, Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats Proposal received and accepted
4AD Records’s This Mortal Coil project (includes The  Cocteau Twins) Walpole, Beckford, Shelley and Lewis Proposal received and accepted

[1] Except for disco, because disco sucks.

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