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Transgressive or just unexpected? Heteroglossic gender performance and informal popular music learning

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This article explores the tensions between ‘doing gender’ and ‘doing popular music’ within the context of informal popular music learning for one group of girls of age 12–14 in a Southwestern Ontario elementary school. Using the transposition of Bakhtin’s concepts of monoglossia and heteroglossia to the performance of gender, the authors explore how members of Group G, an all-girl popular music band, perform heteroglossic gender behaviours, even while maintaining and presenting an outwardly monoglossic performance of gender in other respects. Furthermore, we explore how aspects of the girls’ behaviours vacillated between traditional gendered discourses and traditional discourses of popular music. Finally, findings suggest that the girls of Group G may not have been deliberately transgressive in their performances of gender but that they may have produced heteroglossic gender performances as part of a process of exploring their own identities. We conclude by considering the informal popular music classroom as a space that may be conducive or constricting towards the possibilities of heteroglossic gender performances and the need for a broadening of pedagogies of popular music that take into consideration both gender and power as it relates to gender.
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Keywords: all-female musicking; conceptualization of gender; gender discourse; heteroglossia; monoglossia; popular music pedagogy

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Western University

Publication date: December 1, 2019

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  • The main aims of Journal of Popular Music Education, especially initially, will be iteratively to define the parameters of the field and disciplines of its readership and contributors (especially with regard to other journals in popular music and music education), this being an emerging field of scholarship and practice. The other principal aim will be to disseminate excellent critique and other forms of scholarship (e.g. phenomenological) in and related to the field. The journal will have an inclusive, global reach. 'Education' and 'popular music' are terms that we expect to be stretched and problematized through rigorous examination from multiple international perspectives.
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