Monday, 20 October 2008

CFP: Heavy Metal and Gender (Cologne)

8 - 10 OCTOBER 2009

An international conference, at the University of Music Cologne / Hochschule für Musik Köln, Germany

Heavy metal is music of men and women. But even though it generally attracts as many female as male fans today, heavy metal often emphasizes sexual differences. According to stereotypes, heavy metal is rather masculine than feminine because of its power, aggressiveness, often even ugliness, and its transgressions of cultural norms. From this perspective the under-representation of female metal musicians seems natural as much as women’s interest in metal is often considered abnormal or even inappropriate. However, research on music and gender has increasingly shown that gender roles and differences are not natural laws but complex results of socialisation, cultural mediation, and discourses which change over time.

A wide range of questions

The 40 years old heavy metal genre offers a wide range of questions about gender constructions in musical culture. Obviously, heavy metal has always been dominated by representations of masculinity. This can be identified for instance in the virtuoso playing style of the electric guitar, which is mostly regarded as a masculine instrument, in macho stage shows, warrior images, or in the almost total exclusion of female musicians in the extreme subgenre of black metal. On the other hand, there is a minority of female musicians in heavy metal, including outstanding examples as Doro and Angela Gossow, and their number increased in the past years. Metal women have developed their own images, partly in strong contrast to their male counterparts and to mainstream female images. Women’s participation in heavy metal has recently become subject of discussions in magazines, internet forums and popular DVD documentations as Sam Dunn’s “Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey”. Further, queer positions evading common heterosexual dichotomies occur in metal, too, for instance in forms of gay metal communities.
The field is wide and the challenge is: How exactly are heavy metal and gender related?

The goal of the conference

The goal of the conference is to discuss issues of heavy metal and gender from an interdisciplinary and international perspective. It aims at examining a broad variety of periods, places and subgenres of heavy metal culture and any of its parts including song structures, lyrics, performance practices, visual representations, positions of musicians and fans, local and global scenes, critical and scholarly discourse.
Heavy metal studies as well as gender studies have improved their fields of research and methodology in recent years. Thus it is to be expected that an interdisciplinary discussion of heavy metal and gender today will lead to innovative impulses for research and bring forth new and unexpected results.
It will be the first scholarly conference on heavy metal in Germany and the first metal conference world-wide, which focuses on issues of gender.

Call for Papers

We welcome contributions from the broadest spectrum: Musicology, Gender studies, Cultural studies, Sociology, Literary studies, Media studies etc. The conference language is English.
Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be sent to us by Friday 31st October 2008.
Kindly submit abstracts to:

Dr. Florian Heesch
History | Herstory
University of Music Cologne
Email: heesch(at)

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