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CFP: Progressive Thought in Country Music

Monday, September 28, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Shannon K. Larson
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Dr. Mark Allan Jackson, associate professor of English at Middle Tennessee State University, seeks contributors for a collection of essays on progressive thought in country music.

Too often, country music has been seen as a fundamentally conservative popular expression. But the music that this project focuses on has always had a progressive element and not just at the margins.  Yes, Steve Earle is trotted out as a standard bearer for alt-country leftist politics, but a main streamer such as Merle Haggard has not only offered up class criticisms of an economic system that leaves many by the roadside but has also commented positively on interracial love at a time when America, including its legal system, was much divided on the issue.  So the collection as a whole, which discusses the genre from its commercial beginnings in the 1920s to its current manifestation, should work to show that country music, like the people who perform and listen to it, does not fit easy stereotypes concerning any cultural/political issue.  There is a spectrum there--although the right side of it has gotten the most reportage and analysis.  This collection will endeavor to correct this focus.

To achieve this goal, the writers in this collection will take a number of routes in their original work.  Certainly, the lyrical content will be addressed by some of the writers.  But other contributors will look into the actions, attitudes, images, and aesthetics generated by the performers and the industry itself.

Of particular interest are writers who will discuss such topics as religious tolerance, working-class consciousness, convention-breaking gender performance, anti-jingoistic expression, and other progressive topics.  Also of interest will be contributors whose focus will be on either the early commercial period (1920s-1950s) or the middle period (1960-1980s).

If you are interested in discussing this project further, please contact Dr. Mark Allan Jackson at

Dr. Mark Allan Jackson
Associate Professor
Department of English
P.O. Box 70
Middle Tennessee State University
Murfreesboro, TN 37132

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