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AMS/Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum Lecture Series

The American Musicological Society and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum (RRHOFM) in Cleveland, Ohio, are collaborating on a new lecture series that brings scholarly work to a broader audience and showcases the musicological work of the top scholars in the field.


Upcoming Lecture



11 October 2018: 

The next AMS/Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum Lecture will take place in the library and archives of the RRHOFM, Cleveland, Ohio, 11 October 2018.

Sara Gulgas (University of Arizona) will present “Baroque Rock: An Embarrassing Stain on Rock’s Harder Image?” Gulgas describes her lecture as follows:

“Some of the biggest rock bands of the 1960s—The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Procol Harum, The Kinks—blended the sound of string quartets and harpsichords with rock instrumentation, creating a subgenre known as baroque rock. I argue that baroque rock artists utilized stylistic representations of the past not out of a desire to return to a simpler time (as is often the narrative associated with nostalgia), but to react against modernism, mainstream society, and traditional norms. They participated in what I refer to as postmodern nostalgia: an ironic interpretation of history that references an unexperienced past, in order to alert the listener about the dangers of nostalgic memory. Baroque rock artists poked fun at high class pretensions, canonic works of art, and nostalgic dreams of an imagined past, but all of this was hidden beneath classical-sounding music that ran counter to rock’s working class, hard aesthetic. Baroque rock’s incorporation of a ‘high’ art form drew the attention of cultural figures who assigned aesthetic value to rock and explained it to the mainstream adult audience it initially resisted. The subgenre is left out of historical narratives because it is seen as an embarrassing stain on rock’s harder image due to marketing expectations and the raced, classed, and gendered implications of respectability politics. This embarrassment was evident in the Rolling Stones’ decision to give ‘As Tears Go By’ to Marianne Faithfull before feeling comfortable enough to release it themselves; the Beatles initially feared releasing ‘Yesterday’ as a single in the U.K. for the same reason. The refusal to recognize these major bands’ influences on baroque rock not only diminishes the influence the subgenre had on rock music but it also  perpetuates these bands’ initial fear of embarrassment due to the perceived incongruity between classical music’s pretensions and rock’s associations with antiintellectualism. Through close examination of artist interviews, album critiques, and publicity materials, I document the cultural, social, and historical implications of an overlooked
subgenre that is mentioned but in passing in popular music scholarship.” 

Sara GulgasSara Gulgas is Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Arizona. Her research interests include popular music studies, film and media studies, memory studies, and the sociology of music. She has presented research at national and international conferences and has published her work in IASPM-US Music Scenes, Resonance Interdisciplinary Music Journal, Wolff, ed., Bruce Springsteen and Popular Music: Essays on Rhetoric, Social Consciousness, and Contemporary Culture (2018), and Bayer, ed., Heavy Metal at the Movies (forthcoming).


Planning to attend? RSVP for your free ticket

  • Spring 2019 (date TBA):

Alexander Reed (Ithaca College), “There Is No Pilot”

Call for Lecture Proposals

Follow this link for full instructions if you are interested in participating in the AMS/RRHOFM Lecture Series. The next deadline is 22 January 201921 January 2020.

Past Lectures

See here for full details and video webcasts

Tammy Kernodle (Miami University of Ohio), fall 2017: "Hope for a New Tomorrow: Transcendence and Resistance in the Gospel Blues of Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Mavis Staples and Roberta Flack"

Daniel Goldmark (Case Western Reserve University), spring 2017: "Anthologizing Rock and Roll: Rhino Records and the Repackaging of Rock History"

Steven Baur (Dalhousie University), fall 2016: "Toward a Cultural History of the Backbeat"

Jacqueline Warwick (Dalhousie University), spring 2016: "Dad Rock and Child Stars"

Stephanie Vander Wel (University at Buffalo (SUNY)), fall 2015: "Rose Maddox's Roadhouse Vocality and the California Sound of 1950s Rockabilly and Honky-Tonk"

Mark Clague (University of Michigan), spring 2015: "'This Is America': Jimi Hendrix's Reimaginings of the 'The Star-Spangled Banner' as Social Comment for Woodstock and Beyond"

Samantha Bennett (Australian National University), fall 2014: "Rock, Recording and Rebellion: Technology and Process in 1990s Record Production"

Christopher Doll (Rutgers University), spring 2014: "Nuclear Holocaust, the Kennedy Assassination, and 'Louie Louie': The Unlikely History of Sixties Rock and Roll"

Loren Kajikawa (University of Oregon), September 2013: "Before Rap: DJs, MCs, and Pre-1979 Hip Hop Performances"

Andrew Flory (Carleton College), December 2012: "Reissuing Marvin: Musicology and the Modern Expanded Edition"

David Brackett (McGill University), April 2012: "Fox-Trots, Hillbillies, and the Classic Blues: Categorizing Popular Music in the 1920s"

Albin Zak (University at Albany, SUNY), October 2011: "'A Thoroughly Bad Record': Elvis Presley's 'Hound Dog' as Rock and Roll Manifesto"

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