Coming soon! Public Scholarship as Social Justice: A writing workshop at #iaspmuscon


I’m very pleased to announce that in late May I will be co-hosting a workshop with Alexandra Apolloni at the annual meeting of the International Association for Popular Music. This is going to be one heck of a conference. The program committee chair is the amazing Katherine Meizel. She came up with a brilliant theme: Wanna Be Startin’ Something: Popular Music and Agency. You should check out the program (which you can download here from the IASPM website) and consider joining us for the conference, which will be held on the campus of the University of Calgary.* The conference is being held as part of the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, a yuuuge gathering of about 70 scholarly associations. Just think of it! Calgary in May with all the scholars! It will be gorgeous and stimulating! But don’t wait! Early registration ends April 1. 🙂

As a teaser for the workshop, Alexandra and I have decided to share our proposal with the public. We hope you will join us. We are especially eager to coach early-career writers, but we welcome everyone. We’ll post more about this as we get closer to the workshop.



Public Scholarship as Social Justice: Dis/Ability and Accessible Writing   

As popular music scholars, we tackle vital social and political issues in our work. When we make our research more accessible by publishing in widely-read publications, we can play a more active role in advocating for social justice and speaking out about inequality. Additionally, for scholars who work at the margins of academia (including adjunct faculty, independent scholars, etc.) and who have limited institutional research and writing support, these publication opportunities can enable participation in intellectual discourse. Ultimately, such participation is about accessibility, which is a central concern of this publication workshop. Through this 90-minute workshop, we will encourage IASPM members to explore the activist potential of scholarship through accessible publication. We will challenge participants to question the institutional hierarchies that have historically limited participation in scholarly conversations about music, and empower participants to take action by producing public-facing scholarship that enables access and participation.


Alexandra Apolloni: “Pitching Research for a General Audience”

Many academics are interested in creating scholarship that reaches an audience beyond our disciplines and departments, but don’t know how or where to start. Popular music scholars have a unique advantage in approaching public-facing scholarship: we write about music that people love, and are interested in reading and thinking about. Furthermore, popular music scholars are well-positioned to make valuable contributions to the vital debates about popular music, politics, and social justice occurring in online and print media. In so doing, we can not only make our research more accessible, but also make space in scholarly conversations for voices from beyond academia.

Apolloni, who has written about music, race, and gender for a number of online publications (including The Toast and Hippo Reads), will discuss how to find publication opportunities and how to pitch story ideas to editors. Using examples of successful pitches, she will demonstrate how scholars can draw out stories from research projects that connect to current social concerns and political events. For this workshop, Apolloni will focus on how participants can use skills developed in academia — including researching and paper abstract writing — to their advantage in the pitching process. Workshop attendees will be encouraged to participate in a live sample pitch-drafting session that explores how to connect stories from our research to stories in the headlines.

Felicia M. Miyakawa: “Dis/ability, Accessibility, and The Avid Listener

Scholars must not only consider how dis/ability and accessibility shape music and music-making, but also how these factors shape our scholarship, the availability of our work, and the impact of our work. Furthermore, some publishing opportunities beyond academia offer authors compensation for their work. To these ends, Miyakawa, co-editor of The Avid Listener (a publishing venue that compensates authors), will discuss how she works with authors to develop writing voices suitable for a general audience. The Avid Listener is dedicated to accessibility on a number of fronts, believing fully that providing access to intellectual conversations is useful for everyone, not just specialists. TAL is a free resource, and authors are encouraged to link to supporting literature that is freely available. More importantly for this workshop, TAL hosts scholarly discussions in prose accessible to experts and laypersons alike. Miyakawa (and co-editor Andrew Dell’Antonio) help authors simplify their prose (while not dumbing-down content); hone in on only the most important narrative thread(s); rely less on a heavy scholarly apparatus; and remain cognizant of the target audience. For this workshop, Miyakawa will walk participants through the developmental process with the use of essays already published on TAL, and will discuss best practices of writing for a general readership.


*Full disclosure: you must join IASPM before registering for the conference. Find out more here.

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