Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Metal Academic Conferences

Today the academic scholar is in the precarious position of a constant need to publish. As long as scholars are publishing papers and books, they are still considered relevant in their field – no matter what they are writing about. That is why there are many, many ridiculous conferences held every year so that these scholars can perpetuate and present their work. It’s no longer enough to write about the homoeroticism that exists between Iago and Othello, you have to argue how “So You Think You Can Dance” figures into the social fabric of what once was considered homoerotic as informed by what Iago may or may not have meant by “I plight my troth to you.”

There are academic conferences based on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Twilight Series, U2 (the band), Harry Potter, and yes, even Reality television. So I’m not surprised that the ever expanding world of academic conferences has now found Heavy Metal a worthy subject to interrogate. In 2008, the first annual “Heavy Fundamentalisms: Music, Metal, and Politics” conference took place in Salzburg, Austria. Just this past year, Cologne University hosted the “Heavy Metal and Gender” international congress. And last week, several professors met at a bar in Brooklyn for a 6 hour symposium on black metal.

I have to admit, I would have loved to attend such a conference – no matter the apparent hilarity and futility of the self perpetuating, self aggrandizing academic machine. Because no matter how ridiculous I think those “other” conferences are, I believe there is something to be gained from the intersection of academia and metal (even if what it produces is a steaming pile of shit). Here are some jewels of academic B.S. that I missed:

From “Heavy Metal Fundamentalisms”:

Suicide, Booze and Loud Guitars: The Ethical Problem of Heavy Metal
“You’re too Fuckin’ Metal for your own good” Controlled Anger and the Expression of Intensity and Authenticity in Post-modern Heavy Metal

The Call of Cthulhu: Narrativity of the Cult in Metal

Extreme Music for Extreme People(!?!) Black and Death Metal put to Test in a Comparative Empirical Study

Masculinities within Black Metal: Heteronormativity, Protest Masculinity or Queer?

What is This that Stands before Me?: Metal as Deixis

From the Black Metal Conference:

The Counter-Reformation in Stone and Metal: Spiritual Substances.

Anti-Cosmosis: Black Mahapralaya

Perpetual Rot: Obsessive Cycles of Deterioration

From the Heavy Metal and Gender Conference:

Metal and the Male Monster

Leather Sisterhood: Metal, Masculinity, and Lesbian Fandom

Public Perceptions of Masculinity and Femininity in Turkish Metal

1 comment:

  1. I haven't read any of these, and I agree that 99% of academic literature on metal is horrible, and usually just deals with the "psychological effects" that listening to metal has on people. But there are a few worthwhile academic articles about metal. I'm a communications student, and I have written a few papers on metal, which required the use of academic sources. I found a few really good ones on the globalization of heavy metal, especially in relation to Sepultura. I would be interested to read some of these. A lot of them look like total crap, but others could be quite interesting. Remember, just because someone is writing for academic purposes doesn't mean that they themselves aren't metal fans. There are lots of academic publications that aren't 100% bullshit, but a lot of these look like they could be really bad.