Can rock music help us understand literature? Rock Music in American Fiction Writing, 1966-2011 argues that a close analysis of the rock music incorporated into a literary text–an investigation of the lyrics, a musicological exploration of the sounds and rhythms, a cultural-historical inquiry into the production and reception of a song–may yield exciting new insight into and expand our understanding of American literary production from the mid-20th century onwards. Reading major works by Joyce Carol Oates, Alice Walker, Don DeLillo, Jeffrey Eugenides, Sherman Alexie and Jennifer Egan from such a rock-musicological vantage point, Rock Music in American Fiction Writing adds a new dimension to recent work in American literary criticism by seeking to establish rock music as an analytical tool for literary investigation. The book concentrates on the way these literary artists have struggled to come to terms with the dichotomies inherent in rock music–its liberating and revolutionary impulses as well as its adherence to the bleakest laws of consumer capitalism–in their work. By combining a musicological with a literary analysis, Rock Music in American Fiction Writing highlights the crucial and complex role rock music has played in shaping the artistic outlook and cultural sensibilities of literary artists since the 1960s in America and beyond.
Martin Moling is a lecturer at the Institute of Education at the University of Zurich.
Chapter 1: ‘How Does it Feel?’: Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan and Rock Music’s Liberating Potential in Joyce Carol Oates’s “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” and Alice Walker’s “Nineteen Fifty-Five”
Chapter 2: ‘Renaissance on Main Street’: Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones and the Discovery of a New Language in Don DeLillo’s Great Jones Street
Chapter 3: ‘You Don’t Own Me’: Girl-Group Rock and the Subversion of the Male Gaze in Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Virgin Suicides
Chapter 4: ‘Anarchy on the Rez’: The Blues, Colonial Resistance and the Negotiation of a Native-American Identity in Sherman Alexie’s Reservation Blues
Chapter 5: ‘No Future’: Time, Punk Rock and Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad
Conclusion: And In the End…
Some of the most effective analyses of the American past emanate from examinations of music and literature. In Rock Music in American Fiction, Martin Moling takes on with an uncommon range of expertise both genres. The result is an informed and highly readable exploration not only of rock, but of the late 20th society that produced and consumed it.