Bruce Springsteen and Popular Music to be Published by Routledge

A little over a year ago I released a CFP for Edited Collection on Bruce Springsteen for Routledge Studies in Popular Music Series. I received over 50 chapter proposals from around the world and, with the help of Susette Brooks, I submitted an initial proposal to Routledge in October 2014. After making revisions based on reviewer, I submitted an updated version of the table of contents on March 6, 2014.

I’m pleased to announce that Routledge will publish my edited collection, Bruce Springsteen and Popular Music: Rhetoric, Memorial, and Contemporary Culture, as part of the Studies in Popular Music series. It should appear in hard cover some time in 2016.

Working Abstract draft
This interdisciplinary volume enters the scholarly conversation about Bruce Springsteen at the moment when he has reinforced his status of global superstar and achieved the status of social critic. Covering musical and cultural developments, chapters primarily consider work Springsteen has released since 9/11—that is, released during a period of continued global unrest, economic upheaval, and social change—under the headings War, Fear, and Memorial; Gender and Sexual Orientation; Lineage and Legacy; and Toward a Rhetoric of Springsteen. The collection engages Springsteen and popular music as his contemporary work is just beginning to be understood in terms of its impact on popular culture and music, applying new areas of inquiry to Springsteen and putting Springsteen fan writing within the same binding as scholarly writing to show how together they create a more nuanced understanding of an artist. Established and emerging Springsteen scholars approach work from disciplines representing four countries including Rhetoric and Composition, Musicology, Labor Studies, American History, Gender Studies, Literature, Communications, Sociology, Theology, and Government. Offering context, critique, and expansive understanding of Springsteen and his work, this book contributes to Springsteen scholarship and the study of popular music by showing Springsteen’s broadening academic appeal as well as his escalating legacy on new musicians and contemporary culture.

Owen Cantrell, Georgia State University, USA
Holly Casio, London, England
Francesco Cassiani, Junior International Academy, Italy
Peter Chianca, Boston, USA
Jonathan Cohen, University of Virginia
Sara Gulgas, University of Pittsburgh, USA
Megan Faver Hartline, University of Louisville, USA
Nadine Hubbs, University of Michigan, USA
Connor Kirkpatrick, Edinburgh, Scotland
Donna Luff, Harvard Medical School, USA
Lorraine Mangioni, Antioch University, USA
Pamela Moss, University of Victoria, Canada
Karen O’Donnell, University of Exeter, England
Lauren Onkey, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, USA
Alan Rauch, University of North Carolina, USA
Eric Sean Rawson, University of Southern California, USA
Jason Schneider, DePaul University, USA
Martha Nell Smith, University of Maryland, USA
Jason Stonerook, University of Maryland, USA
Scott Wager, Miami University, USA
William I. Wolff, Rowan University, USA

(cross-posted at

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[updated] CFP: Edited Collection on Bruce Springsteen for Routledge Studies in Popular Music Series

I am soliciting abstracts by scholars from all disciplines, including scholar-fans and fan-scholars, to be considered for inclusion in an edited collection on Bruce Springsteen, which will eventually be submitted to Routledge’s Studies in Popular Music series. The editor of this series has expressed an interest in seeing a Springsteen collection proposal.

In the middle of Bruce Springsteen’s 2012 Wrecking Ball tour promotional interview with the Paris media, one reporter observed, “so many people these past couple years look to you for your interpretation of events… . Look at us: when we were waiting for you earlier, so many people care about what you think, and what you feel about what is happening in the world.”

For many around the globe, Springsteen has become a voice of the everyday citizen in a political and social climate where such voices are marginalized. He has received a Kennedy Center Honor and with Peter Seeger sang before millions after Barack Obama was elected President for the first time. He has actively located his work within the lineage of Woody Guthrie and Seeger, reinforcing the necessity of contemporary folk music. In his SXSW Keynote he also asserted the importance of early rock and roll on his work, exclaiming, “Listen up, youngsters: this is how successful theft is accomplished!” In other places, he has discussed the significant influence of film and short stories, often describing his records as cinematic and looking for sounds that would evoke certain images. A new community of musicians, such as Tom Morello, Mumford and Sons, the Hold Steady, and Arcade Fire, has looked to him as a guide. In his most recent albums, Springsteen remixes work in the public domain and covers lesser known artists whose work speaks in a voice similar to his own. He has become quite adept at composing songs that respond to immediate contemporary events, such as “American Skin (41 Shots)” and “How Can a Good Man Stand Such Times and Live.” As performers, Springsteen and the E Street Band are incomparable, with shows lasting over 3 hours without a break.

Despite his contemporary appeal, Springsteen also seems to be rooted in the traditional relationship between label and artist. His recent move to release live versions of his shows soon after the events, while seemingly progressive, reinforces artist- and label-centric publishing with the possibility of refocusing fans on official bootlegs rather than those they compose themselves. Yet, Springsteen doesn’t seem to mind—and rather enjoys—fans recording his concerts with their phones and uploading them to YouTube. He is genuinely appreciative of the efforts fans go through to see his shows and has fun with their sign requests. The decades-long conversation he has been having with his fans (and fans with other fans) has, like all conversations, been made more complex as a result of convergent media.

Within this context has been a steady stream of writing on Springsteen, including several recent biographies, collections of interviews, international symposia, and the upcoming first issue of an academic journal dedicated to Springsteen.

The Routledge Studies in Popular Music series is described as a “home for cutting-edge, upper-level scholarly studies and edited collections covering Popular Music. Considering music performance, theory, and culture alongside topics such as gender, race, celebrity, fandom, tourism, fashion, and technology, titles are characterized by dynamic interventions into established subjects and innovative studies on emerging topics.”

Possible subjects might include but are certainly not limited to:

  • Springsteen and the folk tradition
  • Springsteen and influence
  • Springsteen’s notebooks and his writing process
  • Springsteen and the rhetoric of conversation
  • Springsteen and the rhetoric of performance
  • Springsteen fans and fandom
  • Springsteen fan zines, writings, and videos
  • Springsteen anti-fans
  • Springsteen and philanthropy
  • Springsteen and gender
  • Springsteen and race
  • Springsteen and remix
  • Springsteen and transmedia storytelling
  • The @springsteen account
  • Springsteen archiving and collecting
  • Springsteen tour data collection and representation
  • Springsteen and online videos
  • Springsteen and the relevance of popular voices
  • Springsteen and the music industry
  • Springsteen and his global appeal
  • Springsteen and literature
  • Springsteen and film
  • Springsteen and community
  • Springsteen and religion
  • Springsteen and I
  • Springsteen’s SXSW Keynote Address
  • The contributions of the E Street Band

Please submit a 500 – 750 word abstract and 200-word biographical note that to Bill Wolff, Associate Professor of Writing Arts, Rowan University, at by May 18, 2014 June 8, 2014. Indicate the anticipated word length of your chapter, between 3000 and 6000 words. Biographical note should in part describe your qualifications for writing your article. Authors will be notified of acceptance by June 30, 2014 July 6, 2014. Once abstracts have been accepted, a proposal will be submitted to Routledge. If accepted, chapters will be due in late 2014. All chapters will receive blind review.