Category Archives: Class3

How not to write about female musicians: examples [participation]

In today’s class, we’ll be discussing criticism of female rock and pop musicians. In her article, “How Not to Write About Female Musicians: A Handy Guide,” Maura Johnson highlights some of the ways that sexism becomes apparent in criticism.

Find an example or two that illustrate one or more of her points from recent articles in music blogs, magazines, etc. Send them to me before class, and be prepared to lead class discussion about your example.


Dressing for success (or failure!) [participation]

In class today, we’ll be considering how the way a woman looks on stage contributes to the way audiences and critics perceive her performance. To earn a participation credit for today, e-mail me ahead of time with at least two examples we can use in class for discussion. These can be controversies over a female musician’s dress or looks, images, video clips, etc., from any historical period. Include a few sentences about why you think your examples are significant or interesting, and be prepared to explain them in class.


Women’s music clubs and orchestras [research]

Using the ProQuest Historical Newspapers database, the Library of Congress’s online resources, and other databases that will allow you to search historical documents, research the activities of a particular women’s club or orchestra. You could even head over to the Western Reserve Historical Society’s library and see if you can track down any Cleveland groups.

Post information, images, links, etc. in the “Clubs and Orchestras” thread on Blackboard.


Female musicians in Renaissance art [research]

We will be looking for examples of iconography showing women in music at the Cleveland Museum of Art today. However, the CMA’s collection does not have very many examples from the Renaissance period. Using ArtStor or a similar resource, find examples of artworks from the Renaissance that show women making or listening to music.

Post your painting in the “Paintings” thread on Blackboard, and be sure to include a brief description (Artist, year, and a description of what is depicted in the artwork).


Bring examples of women in African drumming to class [participation]

Locate additional audio or video examples of women drummers in African or Afro-Caribbean music (other than those on the listening list) that we can look at as a group. Post these examples in the “Drummers” thread on Blackboard before class so that I can access them. Then, be prepared to say a bit about your example in class.


Cross-cultural perspectives paper [critical writing]

You will learn from today’s reading that in some African and Afro-Carribean cultures, women are restricted from playing certain drums, particularly in religious contexts, and that the drums themselves are thought of as gendered. The packet of readings for today includes four brief excerpts from articles about this topic by ethnomusicologists. Two are writing about their native cultures, and two are not.

Write out brief answers to the following questions, and be prepared to discuss your responses in class:

(1) What methods do these scholars use to investigate the relationship between gender and drumming, and do these methods ever depend on being a cultural insider or outsider?
(2) How does knowing the gender and nationality of each author shape your response to their arguments?


4/8 Women and Rock and Roll

Women and Rock and Roll – Fans and Groupies

Reading: Maura Johnson, “How Not to Write About Female Musicians: A Handy Guide” Village Voice blog, 10 Feburary 2012 (
Mavis Bayton, “Women and the Electric Guitar”

Listening: TBD