Cochistory 2015, Paris Call for Papers International Symposium Disorder: Towards a social history of punk and post-punk

Disorder: Towards a social history of punk and post-punk
University of Paris Diderot, University of Chicago
With University of Versailles Saint-Quentin, New York University Paris
Friday 26 — Saturday 27 March 2015, Paris

Punk and Post-Punk: two movements that emerged in the mid to late seventies, the latter supposedly born from the ashes of the former, with the golden age of Post-Punk lasting till about 1984. The sheer number of new bands was staggering, and hundreds upon hundreds have made a name for themselves (Sex Pistols, Siouxsie and the Banshees, PIL, Gang of Four, Slits, The Pop Group, Père Ubu, Lydia Lunch, Einstürzende Neubauten, Dead Kennedys, Kas Product, Die Form, Magazine, Joy Division, John Foxx, Virgin Prunes, Bauhaus, UK Decay…). The degree of experimentation was likewise bewildering. All the arts were impacted, perhaps more especially in Britain. There were themes that had not been aired before in the music industry.
These movements have been written about in specialised or general-interest publications (Simon Reynolds, Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984—these dates can of course be debated), but they have not been the subject of very much academic research.
The time is ripe to reflect upon these “expressive moments” in relation to the socio-political climate in which they emerged. The social sciences provide methodologies and tools: ethnography of the audience, the writing of social history, studies of artist/media relations, quantitative and qualitative studies of economic exchange, such as indie labels, distribution networks, advertising and communication strategies, etc.
The Punk/Post-Punk movements were steeped in the socio-political environment, especially because their audience was young, and their formulas (lyrics and “attitude”) are to be observed in relation to the social sphere. Their impact, if impact there was, needs to be complexified. We need to deconstruct all these notions before we can reassess any impact, image, or history. What reading can be given of these movements looking back at them? Was/were the movement(s) homogeneous? Do the chronological accounts stand up to scrutiny? Did the participants really have “agency”? Or are we, in retrospect, faced with a history in fragments, a series of isolated responses to economic situations, and individual political reactions to the social order? Was there radical change or continuity in either of the movements, musically or otherwise? Finally, is the temporality inherent in the term “Post-Punk” useful, or should other denominations prevail?

The conferences and discussion panels will concentrate on three main themes (the topics listed below are not exhaustive):

— The media and spheres of influence: who says what is Punk/Post-Punk?
— Commitment and provocation: Politics or posing?
— Recuperation
— The real impact on society (then and now)
— Art-school punk vs. street punk

— Aesthetics and politics of Punk/Post-Punk identities in contrast to established norms
— Expressions and production of marginality: sexuality, gender, race, ethnicity, social class
— Case studies of fan movements (fragmentation of the periods, of the public, etc.)
— Self-made fan-identity vs. the identities fabricated by the Majors: fashion, artifice and commerce of Punk/Post-Punk image making
— Importance of the home-made/hand-made in the construction of identities
— The effects of financial success

— Punk, Post-Punk and aesthetics: contemporary art (Throbbing Gristle, Test Dept, etc.)
— Punk/Post-Punk: nostalgia and posterity (1990-2015)
— Why the “Post-” in “Post-Punk”?

No limits will be placed either chronological or geographical.
Languages: conference papers and discussions may be in English or French.

Proposals to be submitted before 15 September 2014 and sent to

Submissions to be no more than one page long, and to include between three and five bibliographical references as well as a CV/résumé.
Papers must be original and unpublished.
Those papers selected for publication must be sent on or before 01 March 2015.
Conferences will be 20 minutes long, followed by 10 minutes of discussion.

Scientific committee: Arnaud Baubérot (UPEC), Paul Edwards (Université Versailles St Quentin/ New York University Center in Paris), Élodie Grossi (Université Paris Diderot), Travis A. Jackson (University of Chicago), Paul Schor (Université Paris Diderot), Florence Tamagne (Université Lille III)

Organizers: Paul Edwards, Élodie Grossi, Paul Schor.