CFP: Special Issue on Beyoncé, Popular Music and Society

Posted on Jul 19, 2016

Popular Music and Society

Call for Papers

Special Issue on Beyoncé

Guest-edited by Marquita Smith, Kristin McGee, and Christina Baade

Submissions are invited for a special issue of Popular Music and Society on the musical and cultural impact of Beyoncé.

The 2016 launch of Lemonade and the Formation World Tour–along with Beyoncé’s numerous other mass-mediated performances, musical releases, and actions–inspire not only informal evaluations of her music and public persona, but also scholarly, in-depth investigations of the values, aesthetics, and cultural significance of her work.  Moreover, Beyoncé has played a profound role in intervening in and catalyzing debates about feminism, social justice movements, Black culture, and sexuality within the public sphere.  Because of the extreme versatility and dynamic range of her artistic oeuvre and the ideologies reflected by her public engagements and social initiatives, we seek to compile an issue that correspondingly highlights this complexity.  Articles may therefore introduce a range of topics and perspectives.  These may include innovative creation of visual albums; the incorporation of images of Black culture and Black history into Beyoncé’s creative work; her adroit exploitation of social and commercial media to promote her public and artistic persona; and her nonmusical but socially engaged activities in connection with various causes, especially connected to Black/Southern communities of the United States.  We also seek to investigate the diverse meanings and pleasures that Beyoncé’s work holds for her fans, who represent a range of cultural backgrounds; racial, sexual, and gender identities; and generations.  We seek to better understand Beyoncé’s role as a multifaceted cultural symbol from her status as a local, teenaged breakout star from Houston, Texas; to a national Black cultural icon; to a consummate music industry performer, singer, producer, and dancer; and to a global celebrity and pop star.  Therefore, we invite articles that explore Beyoncé’s significance to these fan communities in relation to her diverse body of work and modes of identification.

We welcome a range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary scholarship, including performance studies, cultural studies, ethnomusicological, musicological, and media studies approaches and critical race, feminist, and political economic perspectives.  Articles on Beyoncé and her work might pursue the following:

      Examination of how Black cultural values and artistic traditions across the African diaspora inform Beyoncé’s artistic work;

      The role of intersectional feminism, especially Black feminism, in evaluating Beyoncé’s musical, audiovisual, and cultural work;

      The relation of late capitalism and neoliberalism to the reception and mediation of Beyoncé’s public persona;

      Theoretically informed thick descriptions of Beyoncé’s music recordings, videos, and mediated performances, including live media events;

      The role of Black vernacular dance in Beyoncé’s audiovisual work and its relation to the meanings attached to the spectacle of the female body in pop music;

      Performative analyses of Beyoncé’s negotiation of contemporary celebrity culture, autobiographical expression, and authorship in collaborative art forms;

      Interrogation of the role of music-industry institutions in guiding the production and promotion of the star Beyoncé–and the ways in which Beyoncé has negotiated the shifting terrain of these institutions in the early twenty-first century; and

      An analysis of the digitally mediated nature of Beyoncé’s stardom within/through fan communities and online criticism.

Potential contributors are asked to submit abstracts of 250-500 words and a short bio (100-200 words) by 15 November 2016 to Dr. Marquita Smith at  Those selected for inclusion will be notified by 1 January 2017 and asked to deliver completed articles (6,000-8,000 words) by 1 July 2017.  Articles will be peer-reviewed.  Inquiries regarding potential essay topics and their suitability for inclusion are welcome.  Please address all correspondence and submit all documents to, with copies to and

Christina Baade
University Scholar (2015-19)
Associate Professor, Department of Communication Studies and Multimedia
Book Review Editor, Journal of the Society for American Music
Togo Salmon Hall, Room 329A
McMaster University
1280 Main St. W
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8S 4M2
phone: 905/525-9140 ex. 23736

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