Litpop: Writing and Popular Music (Ashgate, 2014). Now in print!


It was a wonderful surprise to unwrap my personal hardcopy of this new Ashgate title which arrived in the post today, of which I am the proud author of chapter 6. Ashgate’s poster for the book is attached, and the publisher’s descriptive summary of the book’s contents are reproduced below (note my underlining). For 50% discount on orders via Ashgate use code 50BDF14N.

“Bringing together exciting new interdisciplinary work from emerging and established scholars in the UK and beyond, Litpop addresses the question: how has writing past and present been influenced by popular music, and vice versa? Contributions explore how various forms of writing have had a crucial role to play in making popular music what it is, and how popular music informs ‘literary’ writing in diverse ways. The collection features musicologists, literary critics, experts in cultural studies, and creative writers.

Contents: Introduction: Writing and popular music: Litpop in/and/as the world, Rachel Carroll and Adam Hansen. Part I Making Litpop: ‘A burlesque of art’: Three Men in a Boat, music hall and the imperial mimicry of the Victorian urban explorer, David Ibitson; ‘You can’t just say ‘words’’: literature and nonsense in the work of Robert Wyatt, Richard Elliott; Perfect pop story: Sarah Records (1987–1995), Elodie Amandine Roy; ‘Fate songs’: musical agency and the literary soundtrack in D.B.C. Pierre’s Vernon God Little, Gerard Moorey; ‘We are turning cursive letters into knives’: the synthesis of the written word, sound and action in riot grrrl cultural resistance, Julia Downes. Part II Thinking Litpop: Defining qualities: making a voice for rock and pop music in the English quality news press, Jennifer Skellington; Trauma and degeneration: Joy Division and pop criticism’s imaginative historicism, Paul Crosthwaite; Is ‘natural’ in it?: Gang of Four, Scritti Politti, and Gramsci, David Wilkinson; ‘You should try lying more’: the nomadic impermanence in sound and text in the work of Bill Drummond, Nathan Wiseman-Trowse; Fela Kuti versus craze world: notes on the Nigerian grotesque, Hugh Hodges. Part III Consuming Litpop: ‘[S]he loved him madly’: music, mixtapes and gendered authorship in Alan Warner’s Morvern Callar, Rachel Carroll; Audio books: the literary origins of grooves, labels and sleeves, Richard Osborne; ‘Our histories could fill a megastore’: Paul Farley in conversation with Adam Hansen, Paul Farley and Adam Hansen; Coda, Sheila Whiteley. Index.”

“(D)espite its ephemeral nature and what some might perceive as its heightened subservience to the music industry, and regardless of those who would criticize its present day format, rock and pop music criticism within quality newspapers represents a vast and significant body of writing, with its own unique history and language, which continues to play a vital role in maintaining such music within the public consciousness”.

An extract from my chapter in Litpop: Writing and popular music (Ashgate, 2013).

Litpop flyer


Published by Dr Jennifer Skellington

In 2010 I completed my PhD thesis entitled ‘Transforming Music Criticism? An examination of changes in music journalism in the English broadsheet press from 1981 to 1991’, at Oxford Brookes University. My research entailed face to face interviews with fourteen long-standing music journalists representing all music genres from the English quality press, the construction of a database cataloguing and analysing all music-related content from a sample of quality newspapers from the period 1981 to 1991 and the detailed discourse analysis of a sample of live music reviews. My key area of expertise is music criticism and music journalism, particularly relating to popular music (including rock, pop, jazz, world music), however my broader teaching and research specialisms cover a wide range of popular music related topics, particularly those associated with popular music and identity (race, gender, nationality, subcultures) and popular music and film. Since completing my PhD I have held associate lecturing posts at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford University, Solent University, Brunel University, the University of Bristol, Bucks New University, the University of Northampton and the University of Worcester.

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