Monday, June 01, 2009

The Other Night in the Chat Room

Yo Eric! When do you go to the land down under?


Unless you're making a dirty joke (to which the answer is, "how soon have you got?"), it's not until July 26. First comes the NEH seminar: 4 weeks, M-F, 3 hrs a day!


Ah, I thought you looking more immediately for reading material for that long flight.


No, not yet--although I will be sooner than I think. I may do something on love & popular music for this conference; we're branching out, in the Association, from just romance fiction into romance in other media.


Branching out sounds like a good idea. But how would you keep it related to "romance" as in the sort of novels you currently study?


We call it "representations of romantic love in popular media," so we get some parameters from "romantic" (as opposed to agape love, say) and "popular," but in practice these are going to get a bit blurry, I suspect.


Popular media--I see. Presumably contemporary popular media. I was wondering about Renaissance love poetry and so on.


Actually, once you get "popular" into the mix, you have a wide open field. Sir Walter Scott, Byron, both bestsellers, so they'd be in the mix; in the Renaissance, I wonder if the opposite of "popular" might be "court," but I'm not entirely sure...


Scott, Byron...this broadens things considerably. At a certain point, I wonder if it doesn't simply become "representations of romantic love in literature and culture." But by then, you've drifted pretty far from your original interests.


Well, yes and no. MY original interest is the broad one (lit and culture), but if you think about it, we'll have defined a field from the popular on up, rather than from the literary down, so the question of whether this or that is "worth studying" won't come up. (As it does, now, with the romance novels--many of which are actually in some interesting dialogue w/ Scott, Byron, Milton, Shakespeare, etc.) Me, I'm thinking of doing something on "Layla" for Brisbane: Clapton's & Nizami's.


Gotcha. But plugged or unplugged?


Oh, plugged! I'd love to do a reading of the whole album--it's presented as Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, so how the blues about money, etc., fit in will be fun to think through--also the male comradeship & rivalry as enacted by Clapton's & Duane Allman's guitar duels, the mix of voices--could be a very fun project, I think.


For sure--especially since you would go beyond the lyrics to deal with matters of musical form. And you can't beat that extended piano solo.


Yes--and figuring out how to "read" it, musically (and as a commentary on the lyrics, AND as a lead-in to "Thorn Tree in the Garden") will be a treat. Can you think of any pop music criticism that does anything like this? Damned if I can, off the top of my head.


Maybe Anthony DeCurtis; he's about the most sophisticated pop music critic I know (we hung out at Emory; he had a temporary gig there while I was finishing. He had written a dissertation on contemporary fiction, but eventually dumped academia and became editor of Rolling Stone.)


Hey, sounds promising! Thanks!


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What interesting discussions you have in the chat room! I have nothing useful to add, though.

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