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Robert Miklitsch

Related: rockism - cultural studies

Rock 'N' Theory: Autobiography, Cultural Studies, and the "Death of Rock"

1999 Robert Miklitsch.

1. The following essay is structured like a record--a 45, to be exact. While the A side provides an anecdotal and autobiographical take on the origins or "birth" of rock (on the assumption that, as Robert Palmer writes, "the best histories are... personal histories, informed by the author's own experiences and passions" [Rock & Roll 11]), the B side examines the work of Lawrence Grossberg, in particular his speculations about the "death of rock," as an example or symptom of the limits of critical theory when it comes into contact with that je ne sais quoi that virtually defines popular music ("It's only rock 'n' roll, but I like it, I like it"). By way of a conclusion, the reprise offers some remarks on the generational implications of the discourse of the body in rock historiography as well as, not so incidentally, some critical, self-reflexive remarks on the limits of the sort of auto-historical "story" that makes up the A side.

A Side: The Birth of Rock, or Memory Train

"Don't know much about history" --Sam Cooke

2. In 1954, one year before Bill Haley and the Comets' "Rock around the Clock," what Robert Palmer calls the "original white rock 'n' roll" song, became number one on the pop charts, marking a "turning point in the history of popular music" (Rolling Stone 12, emphasis mine); and one year before Elvis covered Little Junior Parker's "Mystery Train" (then signed, under the expert tutelage of Colonel Parker, with RCA); in 1954--the same year the Supreme Court ruled racial segregation unconstitutional--the nineteen-year-old and still very much alive Elvis Presley walked into the Memphis Recording Service and cut Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's "That's All Right."

--http://jefferson.village.virginia.edu/pmc/text-only/issue.199/9.2miklitsch.txt [Jun 2004]

Roll over Adorno: Critical Theory, Popular Culture, Audiovisual Media (2006) - Robert Miklitsch

Roll over Adorno: Critical Theory, Popular Culture, Audiovisual Media (2006) - Robert Miklitsch [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

From the Back Cover
What happens when Theodor Adorno, the champion of high, classical artists such as Beethoven, comes into contact with the music of Chuck Berry, the de facto king of rock ’n’ roll? In a series of readings and meditations, Robert Miklitsch investigates the postmodern nexus between elite and popular culture as it occurs in the audiovisual fields of film, music, and television—ranging from Gershwin to gangsta rap, Tarantino to Tongues Untied, Tony Soprano to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Miklitsch argues that the aim of critical theory in the new century will be to describe and explain these commodities in ever greater phenomenological detail without losing touch with those evaluative criteria that have historically sustained both Kulturkritik and classical aesthetics.

"Robert Miklitsch loves popular music and the movies, and he’s not afraid to theorize about it. This intriguing book makes theorists of the popular accessible at the same time that it makes rock and film even more fascinating." — Krin Gabbard, author of Black Magic: White Hollywood and African American Culture

"The undercutting of the distinction between classical and rock music is one of the great insights of this book. Miklitsch sees how classical music is not really autonomous in the way that someone that Adorno would claim. It, instead, suffers from the same heteronomy that infects rock music. By working to eliminate the barrier between high and low, the author helps to open us up to a whole new way of experiencing the aesthetic, a mode of experiencing that we must adopt in order to exist within contemporary culture." — Todd McGowan, author of The End of Dissatisfaction? Jacques Lacan and the Emerging Society of Enjoyment

See also: Robert Miklitsch - Theodor Adorno - black music - rock music

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