On Wednesday October 27th, Professor Stephanie Vander Wel will launch her new book, Hillbilly Maidens, Okies, and Cowgirls: Women's Country Music 1930-1960 in a virtual event with the UB Gender Institute. Free. Register here to receive link.
Stephanie Vander Wel has served on the faculty at the University at Buffalo's Department of Music since 2008 after receiving her Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Professor Vander Wel’s research and teaching interests focus on popular music, American music, women in music, and cultural theory addressing gender, race, and class. Her articles and reviews have appeared in Musical Quarterly, Journal of the Society for American Music, Southern Space, and others. Her essay on "The Singing Voice in Country Music" appears in the Oxford Handbook in Country Music, edited by Travis Stimeling (University of Oxford Press, 2017); and her essay "Weeping and Flamboyant Men: Webb Pierce and the Campy Theatrics of Country Music" appears in Pink Cowboys: Progressive Thought in Country Music, edited by Mark Jackson (University of Massachusetts Press, 2018). Her recent work explores the gendering of humor in country music.
Via the University of Illinois Press:
From the 1930s to the 1960s, the booming popularity of country music threw a spotlight on a new generation of innovative women artists. These individuals blazed trails as singers, musicians, and performers even as the industry hemmed in their potential popularity with labels like woman hillbilly, singing cowgirl, and honky-tonk angel.
Stephanie Vander Wel looks at the careers of artists like Patsy Montana, Rose Maddox, and Kitty Wells against the backdrop of country music's golden age. Analyzing recordings and appearances on radio, film, and television, she connects performances to real and imagined places and examines how the music sparked new ways for women listeners to imagine the open range, the honky-tonk, and the home. The music also captured the tensions felt by women facing geographic disruption and economic uncertainty. While classic songs and heartfelt performances might ease anxieties, the subject matter underlined women's ambivalent relationships to industrialism, middle-class security, and established notions of femininity.
* Publication of this book was supported by grants from the Judith McCulloh Endowment for American Music and from the AMS 75 PAYS Endowment of the American Musicological Society, funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.