Call for Papers
Heavy Metal: Controversies and Countercultures
Titus Hjelm, Keith Kahn-Harris & Mark LeVine (eds.)
During its forty years of existence heavy metal music has been one of the most controversial genres of popular music. Controversies surrounding alleged (and often documented) sexual promiscuity, occultism and Satanism, and subliminal messages inspiring suicide, have all made heavy metal a target of ‘moral panics’ over popular culture. Within the broad category of ‘heavy metal’ new subgenres keep appearing, continuously challenging the more domesticated and mainstreamed versions, making the genre perpetually topical. In addition, with the deepening of globalisation, the music and culture of heavy metal has spread beyond Europe and North America, challenging cultural norms and raising public debates in new social contexts. Although commercially marginal compared to the heyday of its success in the 1980s, the social impact of heavy metal has hardly lessened.
The aim of this anthology is to analyse the relationship between heavy metal and society within a global context. Adopting a broadly social constructionist approach to the study of moral panics and social movements, the book examines two main themes:
a) Social reactions to heavy metal (i.e. controversy)
b) The construction of heavy metal culture and community in light of these controversies
The first theme looks at how heavy metal has been constructed as deviant and as a social problem. Studies that investigate representations of heavy metal in, for example, the media, the courts, religious literature, and other public arenas are welcomed. Because social problems and moral panics always reflect their social context, discussions of social interests and the social and cultural consequences of claims shed light on not just heavy metal as a genre and subculture, but society in a wider sense.
The second theme examines the construction of heavy metal from the ‘inside’, that is, how fans, musicians, music journalists, etc. create the culture of heavy metal and how that culture interacts with the surrounding social and cultural context. This could include ethnographical studies and studies of fan discourse, for example.
While the majority of chapters will be expected to have a sociological or a cultural studies approach, we welcome contributions from a variety of disciplines, including social psychology, anthropology, history, folkloristics, religious studies, gender studies, etc. Contributions that combine aesthetic/musicological analysis with a discussion of the music's social impact, or that explore how new technologies for production and distribution of music have impacted metal culture are also welcome.
Examples of possible chapters include:
· Heavy Metal and the Threat to Public Order in the Muslim World
· Autobiography and the Making of Heavy Metal Legends
· From National Shame to National Heroes: Lordi and the 2006 Eurovision Contest
· Christian Metal
· Heavy Metal in the US courts
· The Nordic Black Metal Phenomenon
Potential submissions could also include case studies of moral panics over heavy metal, ethnographic studies of heavy metal communities, and studies of fan and artist discourse. We are particularly interested in submissions that discuss heavy metal and society in the Middle East, Asia, South America, East Europe and Russia.
Please submit an abstract of up to 250 words and a short biographical note (see below) to firstname.lastname@example.org
The deadline for submissions is 30 September 2009.
Titus Hjelm is Lecturer in Finnish Society and Culture at University College London. His main areas of expertise are cultural sociology, sociology of religion, social problems, media and popular culture. He is currently working on a book on social constructionism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010) and editing a volume titled Religion and Social Problems (Routledge, 2009). He is also a member of the internationally acclaimed metal band Thunderstone.
Keith Kahn-Harris is a research associate at the Centre for Urban and Community Research, Goldsmiths College. He is the author of Extreme Metal: Music and Culture on the Edge (Berg, 2006) and writes the blog Metal Jew (www.metaljew.org). He is currently co-writing a book on the British Jewish community since 1990.
Mark LeVine is Professor of modern Middle Eastern history, culture and Islamic studies at University of California Irvine and author and editor of several books, including Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Resistance, and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam (Random House/Three Rivers Press, 2008 and Impossible Peace: Israel/Palestine Since 1989 (Zed Books, 2009).