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Geek Rock

An Exploration of Music and Subculture

Edited by Alex DiBlasi and Victoria Willis

Geek Rock: An Exploration of Music and Subculture examines the relationship between geek culture and popular music, tracing a history from the late 1960s to the present day. The term “geek rock” refers to forms of popular music that celebrate all things campy, kitschy, and quirky. In this collection of essays, contributors explore the evolution of this music genre, from writing songs about poodles, girls, monster movies, and outer space to just what it means to be “white and nerdy.”

Editors Alex DiBlasi and Victoria Willis have gathered eleven essays from across the world, covering every facet of geek culture from its earliest influences, including

  • Frank Zappa
  • Captain Beefheart
  • Devo
  • They Might Be Giants
  • Weird Al Yankovic
  • Present-day advocates of “Nerdcore”

Geek Rock offers a working history of this subgenre, which has finally begun to come under academic study. The essays take a variety of scholarly approaches, encompassing musicology, race, gender studies, sociology, and Lacanian psychoanalysis.

Geek Rock will be of interest to readers of all backgrounds: music scholars, college and university professors, sociologists, and die-hard fans.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 226Size: 6 x 9
978-1-4422-2975-4 • Hardback • August 2014 • $68.00 • (£47.95)
978-1-4422-2976-1 • eBook • August 2014 • $67.99 • (£47.95)
Alex DiBlasi has done extensive research on The Kinks, The Who, The Monkees, Frank Zappa, and the influences of Eastern religion in popular music. His other fields of research include experimental film, Czech New Wave cinema, and east European History.

Victoria Willis, Ph.D., is a research analyst in the Office of Institutional Research at Georgia State University. Her research interests revolve around the intersections of rhetoric, music, and popular culture.
List of Illustrations
Introduction: “Q: Are We Not Geeks? A: We Are Geek Rock!”

Chapter 1 “Frank Zappa: Godfather of Geek Rock”
Alex DiBlasi, independent scholar

Chapter 2 “Taste, Kitsch, and Geek Rock: A Multiple Modernities View”
Martina Topić, University of Zagreb

Chapter 3 “Futurists and New Traditionalists: The Antagonistic Critique of Devo and Italian Futurism”
Ian Steinberg, Wilfrid Laurier University

Chapter 4 “Yugoslav and Post-Yugoslav Geek Rock: Haustor and Darko Rundek”
Julijana Zhabeva-Papazova, DMBUC Ilija Nikolovski-Luj

Chapter 5 “They Might Be Lacanian: They Might Be Giants, Jacques Lacan, and the Rhetoric of Geek Rock”
Victoria Willis, Georgia State University

Chapter 6 “‘A Very Subtle Joke’: T.S. Eliot, J. D. Salinger, and the
Puer Aeternus in God Shuffled His Feet
Paul Alexander Cantrell, independent scholar

Chapter 7 “‘Fuck Me, I’m Twee’: Performing Gender and Age in Twee Pop
Caroline Gates-Shannon, independent scholar

Chapter 8 “Man [Seeking] Asto-man?: Nouveau Surf Rock and the Futuristic-Past Nostalgic”
Shannon Finck, Georgia State University

Chapter 9 “The Geek’s Guide to Love: Knowledge and Failure in the Magnetic Fields’
69 Love Songs
Nadav Appel, Bar-Ilan University

Chapter 10 “‘My God, What an Infantile Gesture’: The Mountain Goats as Emblematic of Geek Rock’s Relationship with the Authentic”
Taylor Peters, independent scholar

Chapter 11 “‘Now It’s Time for a Little Braggadocio’: Nerdcore Rap, Race, and the Politics of
Christopher Russell, Northwestern University

Appendix 1: Contributor Biographies
Appendix 2: Suggested Listening
Geek Rock, a series of essays edited by Alex DiBlasi and Victoria Willis, places key figures and trends in the burgeoning geek rock subculture under the lens of critical theory. The inspiration for the book came out of a panel at the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association’s annual meeting in Boston in April 2012. . . .As a study of geek subculture, Geek Rock suggests possibilities for future scholarly exploration.
American Reference Books Annual

DiBlasi and Willis collected eleven essays from around the world, trying to cover the how, when, where, and whys of geek culture’s music from its earliest preferences, which include (as said previously) Zappa and Beefheart, Devo, They Might Be Giants and on to what has now become known as 'nerdcore.' These various essays aren’t simply a fan’s point of view; rather these are serious cultural and musical looks, evaluations and dissections. . . .As a fan of Beefheart and an appreciator of Zappa, I would say, yes, do check this book out. And extra applause for compiling a serious book on a musical subculture; this is not a predictable tome of fan fluff. These are smart music people.