Mentoring & Courses

The Women Who Rock Project is building an interdisciplinary curriculum at University of Washington that not only examines cultural production and feminist activism from a scholarly perspective but also offers students the skills  to generate multimedia forms of scholarship in critical, feminist decolonizing theoretical frameworks.


Winter 2013 GWSS 490/HUM 595
Instructors: Michelle Habell-Pallan, Angelica Macklin and Sonnet Retman, University of Washington, Gender Women & Sexuality Studies and American Ethnic Studies

EXAMINES THE INTELLECTUAL PROJECT OF POPULAR MUSIC STUDIES IN RELATION TO THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF ARCHIVE BUILDING, ORAL HISTORY TRAINING, AND DIGITAL SCHOLARSHIP. “Rock the Archive: Popular Music Studies and Digital Scholarship,” works in conjunction with the Women Who Rock (WWR) Digital Oral History Archive to prepare graduate and undergraduate students to analyze oral histories of a racially and ethnically diverse array of women from the U.S., Mexico and beyond who have made significant contributions to music scenes, social justice movements, public scholarship, and community life.  The course examines the intellectual project of popular music studies in relation to the theory and practice of archive building, oral history training, and digital scholarship.  Students will engage with critical archive studies, learn about the archive as a contested epistemological site, and create photo essays.  In this way students will mesh scholarly work with the production of scholarship in digital form at an introductory level. In particular, they will explore the lives of extraordinary women musicians through primary oral history data contained in the Women Who Rock (WWR) Digital Oral History Archive, an intergenerational experiment in collective and decolonialarchive-building.  Students will participate in the 3rd annual Women Who Rock (WWR) “Making Scenes, Building Communities” (Un)Conference, the Digital Oral History Archive Launch and Symposium and Film Festival on March 8-9, 2013.  They will also have the opportunity to prepare a panel discussion of their work for the 2013 EMP Pop Conference.

HUM 595/GWSS 590 Special Topics
Winter Quarter, 2012  (2 Credits); Spring Quarter, 2012 (3 Credits)
Instructor: Angelica Macklin

This course will utilize a feminist studies framework to explore the politics of representation through the production of digital narratives and oral histories of women (of all genders) and their allies who are making social change, breaking rules, making scenes, building community and rocking all kinds of musics from Hip Hop to punk, salsa, son jaracho, and Afro-Peruvian.  Part I of this two-part series is aligned with the Women Who Rock Research Project and is designed to prepare graduate and undergraduate students to film digital stories and oral histories with people who have made significant contributions toward cultural practice through music scenes, public scholarship, and social justice work. Part II of this two-part series is aligned with the Women Who Rock Research Project and facilitates workshops around editing digital stories and oral histories with people who have made significant contributions toward cultural practice through music scenes, public scholarship, and social justice work. Students gain hands-on editing skills, learn about various post-production techniques, and work through ethical considerations of producing oral histories and short-form digital media genres.

GWSS 542/AES 498:
Winter Quarter, 2011 (5 credits)
Instructors:  Michelle Habell-Pallan and Sonnet Retman

In this graduate/ advanced undergraduate seminar, we will explore how “indie” artists and performers make local scenes and sometimes, also, make a living; how writing about “indie” music makes a scene; and how academics make scenes around “indie” music. Put differently, this class thematizes “the making of . . .” in relation to the cultural meanings, pre-histories and legacies of “indie rock,” using the story of Seattle’s Nirvana as a central point of entry. If Nirvana’s extraordinary success occurred in conjunction with Olympia, Washington’s Sleater- Kinney, the Riot Grrrl movement and an increasingly visible cadre of bands featuring women who rock nationwide, how did this moment come to be? What are its effects twenty years later? And where do race, sexuality, class and region fit into the picture? To grapple with these questions, we will contextualize 1980s and ‘90s “indie rock” by tracing the sonic and performance influences of a range of genres and sub-genres such as blues, gospel, estilo bravío, punk, son jarocho, disco, hip hop and metal. We will focus on cultures of performance and the politics of identity in music, always attending to the sound, structure and format of the music. We will explore the ways music builds community and creates a foundation for social justice movements. The seminar draws upon methodologies from cultural studies, popular music studies, ethnic studies, ethnomusicology, feminist and queer theory and performance studies to think through the innovative work of these performers and scenes

Our aim isn’t simply to review popular music criticism but to understand how particular narratives of popular music create the grounds for inclusion and exclusion that determine a band or scene’s “legendary” status or excision from the official annals of memory. Proceeding from this understanding, we will situate ourselves within this larger conversation in order to generate new narratives and new knowledge. Using the “Women Who Rock: Making Scenes, Building Community” (February 2011) as a case study and experiential site, the seminar will participate in the making of scenes and the building of community. In addition, we will document this community that the seminar is helping to nurture by building the initial phase of the “Women Who Rock” oral history archive of interviews with musicians, performers, and activists, in conjunction with the UW Libraries Digital Initiatives. As we listen to music, watch performances and read music journalism and scholarship, we will consider the pleasures and perils of music writing/documentation as a form of community building in our own praxis. Ultimately the readings and assignments help us to avoid traps of earlier critical writing as we respond to the question, what does it mean to make scenes and build communities centered around women who rock. The “Women Who Rock: Making Scenes, Building Communities” will be hosted at the UW and Seattle University on February 17 and 18, 2011 and the “Nirvana” exhibit opening at the EMP in April 2011.

PHOTO: Winter 2011: Making a Scene: Girls and Boys Play Indie-Rock Class


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