David Schroeder Music & Culture Lecture Series
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This series hosts guest speakers in public lectures. All lectures are free and open to the public and will be held online for the 2020-21 year. Links will be provided closer to the event date.
STEPHANIE VANDER WEL, March 4
Associate Professor, University at Buffalo (SUNY)
Gendering Humor: Country Music, Rebellion, and the Pistol Annies
Humor in country music has been integral to the genre’s musical and theatrical practices since the first barn dance programs broadcast slapstick routines in which country performers routinely wore the mask of the hillbilly buffoon, a performance archetype that has been largely gendered male. Despite this, country comediennes such as Lulu Belle on Chicago’s the National Barn Dance in the 1930s and later Minnie Pearl and June Carter on Nashville’s the Grand Ol’ Opry in the 1950s wielded a range of comedic devices steeped in grotesque mimicry that explicitly challenged and questioned patriarchal power structures and middle-class pretenses. This paper connects the theatrical and vernacular traditions of country music humor of the past to female performers in contemporary country music, specifically the Pistol Annies (Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe, and Angaleena Presley). Like many of their contemporaries, the Pistol Annies use humor as a performative means to forge connections with a predominantly female fan base in their attempts to counter the patriarchal practices of the country music industry.