The inaugural “Heavy Metal And Popular Culture” international conference will take place at Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio April 4-7. It will be the first scholarly conference on heavy metal in the U.S. Registration is free and members of the public are encouraged to attend.
Metal music and culture scholars from Norway, Germany, Switzerland, the U.K., France, Canada, New Zealand, Finland, Brazil and all over the U.S., including Puerto Rico, will gather to share theories, network, and discuss the forthcoming peer-reviewed journal that will be published by The International Society For Metal Music Studies.
There will be four keynote speakers: Robert Walser, director of the Rock And Popular Music Institute at Case Western Reserve University and author of “Running With The Devil: Power, Gender, And Madness In Heavy Metal Music”; Keith Kahn-Harris, author of “Extreme Metal: Music And Culture On The Edge”; Laina Dawes, journalist and photographer from Toronto and author of the book “What Are You Doing Here?: A Black Woman’s Life And Liberation In Heavy Metal”; and Dan Spitz, currently in the band RED LAMB and autism awareness advocate, and former lead guitarist of ANTHRAX.
There will also be three roundtable discussions, which include Martin Popoff (journalist, author of 41 metal books) and Deena Weinstein, author of “Heavy Metal: The Music And Its Culture”. There will also be an exhibition on masks and facepaint through genres, history and cultures.
Heavy metal music studies is comprised of scholars from dozens of academic disciplines. Forty scholars will participate in the conference, including Laura Wiebe from McMaster University in Canada, who will present “‘Musicians from Mars’: Negotiating Music, Genre and Identity in Voivod’s Science Fictional Metal.” Niall Scott, University of Central Lancashire, U.K., will engage audience members in his discussion “Heavy Metal As Resistance.” Colin McKinnon, independent scholar from Switzerland, will discuss “Metal And Comics: Strange Bedfellows?” Yu Zheng, Bowling Green State University, will talk about “The Scene Of Chinese Heavy Metal After The Golden Age: From Painkiller To The Globe.” Sigrid Mendoza, Ponce School Of Medicine And Health Science, University Of Puerto Rico, will thrash out her paper “There’s A Girl In The Mosh Pit! Female Gender Practices In Puerto Rico’s Heavy Metal Scene.” Kevin Ebert, Adjunct Faculty of Guitar, Music at Xavier University, Cincinnati, will present “Bridging The Divide? Classical Music And Popular Culture In Symphonic Metal.”
The idea for an American conference began in the late 2000s when Bowling Green State University’s Jeremy Wallach, Esther Clinton and Brian Hickam traveled to a scholarly heavy metal conferences in Europe.
“It was clear the whole metal studies thing was taking off and we had this idea that we would do a conference on heavy metal here in Bowling Green, which made sense for a lot of reasons,” Wallach old the Toledo Free Press.
“Toledo’s always been a metal town and Ohio’s a metal state, especially in the northern part of the state. Toledo is part of the Rust Belt and industrial wastelands have always been a part of the heavy metal mythos from the beginning.”
“What’s awesome and a little bit different about this [conference] is it’s an international conference and people are coming in from all over the world,” Matt Donahue, an instructor at Bowling Green State University and a member of the local heavy metal band MAD 45, told the Toledo Free Press. And the other awesome part about it is that it’s free.”
The academic study of popular culture in the United States was founded in 1972 by Ray Browne, former Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Bowling Green State University. The full agenda of the conference can be found at this location.
Pictured below: Esther Clinton and Jeremy Wallach