Worldwide heavy metal
BGSU hosts international metal studies scholars
By: Bonnie Blankinship
Underlying the raucous guitars and thunderous noise of a heavy metal concert is a philosophical outlook and aesthetic that has long resonated with people around the world and continues to create new fans every day, particularly outside the U.S.
Often the object of scorn in the United States, heavy metal has gained the notice of scholars of popular culture, who are interested in both its popularity across cultures and the creative ways in which it is adapted.
The Department of Popular Culture will welcome a host of "metal studies" scholars to share their research and celebrate the musical culture's endurance at the Heavy Metal and Popular Culture International Conference, April 4-7. The organizers believe it to be the largest academic heavy metal conference in history.
Three years in the planning, the conference "is a response to the dramatic rise in prominence of heavy metal studies as a field of serious scholarly inquiry that encompasses myriad disciplinary approaches in the humanities and social sciences, from ethnomusicology to philosophy," said conference co-organizer Dr. Jeremy Wallach, an associate professor in Popular Culture.
"What better place to have (the conference) than BGSU, home of the Department of Popular Culture and the Sound Recordings Archives?" he said.
Participants from Europe, Canada, Brazil, New Zealand and Puerto Rico will discuss such topics as the heavy metal community, women's role in the genre, the racial politics of heavy metal, heavy metal's relationship to fiction genres like science fiction and comics, and the "Finnish Take on Metal Management and Consumption."
"The foremost researchers in the field of heavy metal studies along with up-and-coming scholars and students will present their latest work to an audience of their peers," Wallach said. "The result, we hope, will be an unprecedented international meeting of the minds as ideas and experiences are exchanged among scholars from widely dispersed locales united by a common passion and a similar analytical focus."
In addition to presentations in topic-specific sessions, the conference will include roundtable discussions, keynote addresses, an exhibit: "Beyond the Black: Masks and Facepaint through Genres, History and Cultures," and a performance by Donahue and his band, Mad 45.
Donahue will also share his study of heavy metal T-shirts, a category all its own, and show his documentary "Motörhead Matters," about the seminal British metal group.
The conference agenda and speakers list are available online.