Maud Berthomier

junior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2016/2017
discipline Comparative Studies
Lecturer (ATER), University Sorbonne Nouvelle

Research project

Rock Criticism in France and Britain (1965-1979): A Comparative and Interdisciplinary Study in the Sociology of Knowledge

 

The emergence and development of rock as a new form of commercial popular music in the period from 1965 to 1979 is usually analysed by reference to a new kind of music market (youth culture, counter culture), new sound technology (various forms of electronic amplification), and a new organisation of the music business around the production, manufacture and marketing of long-playing records. But rock also involved and, indeed, was an effect of a new way of writing about music: rock criticism. Rock criticism was culturally significant for a number of reasons: it articulated a musical aesthetic that shaped the understanding and reception of this new music; it changed the overall terrain of public music criticism; and it challenged taken-for-granted cultural distinctions between high and low music, between art and commerce. In this respect rock criticism was instrumental in developing new ways of thinking about cultural accreditation in music and art worlds and thus, in the long term, laid the foundations for the new academic field of popular music studies.

 

Despite its cultural importance, rock criticism has not been subject to systematic academic inquiry. There are broad surveys of the history of rock writing, but these studies are primarily concerned with the star writers in American and British music magazines. They are essentially celebratory, conjuring up a misleading picture of a critical golden age.

 

This research is designed to challenge this orthodoxy in a number of ways. First, it is interested in how rock criticism was established and is maintained as a significant cultural field. It will therefore address and decipher the mechanisms by which some writers were consecrated and others excluded from the canon. At the same time, it will be concerned with the material as well as ideological construction of rock writing as a particular kind of journalistic occupation. The question to be addressed here is how rock writing communities were put together and maintained in shared spaces – publications, venues, and other meeting points, such as radio studios. In approaching these questions, this research will adopt a particular methodology: crosscultural analysis. Its methodological aim is to elucidate the varying effects of the forces at play here by examining the emergence and development of rock criticism in contrasting cultural contexts: Britain and France.

 

Biography

 

Maud Berthomier is a Lecturer (ATER) at the University Sorbonne Nouvelle, UFR Arts & Médias. She holds a double Ph.D in Humanities from Concordia University and the University of Poitiers. She specializes in the interdisciplinary field of popular music studies, with a focus on music/literary journalism, rock criticism and music in the 1960-70s in USA, Britain and France. She has taught classes on cultural studies, gender studies, fan studies, popular music studies, media studies, film studies, and cultural policies and practices.

 

Selected publications

 

'La Genèse de la Critique Rock Américaine: Entre Presse et Littérature', in T. Picard (ed.), [title TBA], Presses Universitaires de Rennes, Rennes. [forthcoming]

 

'D’un Cinéma de la Parole à un Cinéma de l’Écoute: L’Usage de la Musique dans Don’t Look Back de D.A. Pennebaker '', in MIMMOC & FoReLL (eds.), [title TBA], La Licorne, Poitiers. [forthcoming]

 

'What if Writing about Rock Criticism Was also Writing with 'Ifs'? Or how Lester Bangs Liked Playing a Trick on his Reader’s Perception of Time', Transatlantica American Studies Journal [online journal], <http://transatlantica.revues.org/6329>, vol. 1, published 15 December 2013.

 

institut

junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2015/2016
The Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH)
discipline History
2015
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
The Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH)
discipline Sociology
2017
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2015/2016
The Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH)
discipline Literature
2015