CFP, AAA 2012: Session Title: Crossing paths with Johnny Cash: Anthropological musings on the man in black
AAA Annual Meeting 2012 - San Francisco, Borders and Crossings
Session proposal: Crossing paths with Johnny Cash: Anthropological musings on the man in black
Organizers: Paul Christensen, Union College
U.S. born singer/songwriter Johnny Cash remains a profoundly influential, albeit controversial, figure in the lexicon of American popular music. His genre-crossing songs earned critical accolades and commercial success, and remain popular today among a diverse and diffuse fan-base. Through his distinct voice and compellingly understated lyrics, Cash urged audiences to consider the morality of prisons, the consequences of war, the horrors of Native American genocide, the grace of spirituality, and the darkness of humanity. However, Cash’s fame was about more than his music. Conveying an overtly masculine, often unabashedly Christian, persona, Cash presented a sound and image that felt and sounded quintessentially American. He was the man in black, “an embodiment of the American male’s most flattering picture of himself” (McClintock 1978). He was also contradictory, rubbing shoulders with political and religious elite, yet remaining a rebel who pushed the sensitivities of a pre-Woodstock America, struggled with addiction, and helped fuel the rise of rock and roll.
The organizers of this panel are both fans of Johnny Cash who feel there is power, message, and meaning in his songs and life. However, we are also detractors in various senses, recognizing that no man can be a saint without blemish. Still, in the “man in black” we find profundity, humor, insight, and indignation, as well as good rhythm. Thus, our goal is to create an entertaining and intellectually rigorous panel that draws on the life and work of Johnny Cash. Papers in this session will use the music and mystique of Johnny Cash as starting points for anthropological discussions concerning persistent issues of contemporary relevance. Our hope is that specific songs will serve as cues for focused and general conversations on the ongoing importance of anthropology, possibilities from within the discipline for social change, and the role of popular culture in scholarly discourse. Put simply, we feel that songs and artistry matter and thus take time to muse on the man in black, and thereby give notice to meaningful areas of ongoing attention in anthropology.
We seek papers initially focussed on a song from the Johnny Cash catalogue that then address and contextualize pertinent issues addressed within. Participants do not need to have any musical background. Instead, we are looking to create an intellectually stimulating, entertaining, and widely engaging panel. In line with this, the use of audio/visual materials as part of individual presentations is highly encouraged.
Keywords: Popular culture, music, contemporary issues, Johnny Cash.
Those interested should send their name, affiliation, and contact information, as well as a short abstract (about 250 words) by April 10 to either:
McClinktock, Jack 1978. “From Drug Addict to Committed Christian,” Family Weekly. January 15, 1978
Posted on: Monday, February 20th, 2012