What Is Post-Punk?: Genre and Identity in Avant-Garde Popular Music, 1977-82

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Popular music in the US and UK during the late 1970s and early 1980s was wildly eclectic and experimental. 'Post-punk', as it was retroactively labeled, is not an easily definable musical category. How do electro-pop melodies, distorted guitars, avant-garde industrial sounds, and reggae beats fit under the same categorical umbrella? What post-punk is not is as interesting a question as what it is.

What Is Post-Punk? combines a close reading of the late-1970s music press discourse with musical analyses and theories of identity to unpack post-punk's status as a genre. Mimi Haddon traces the discursive foundations of post-punk across publications such as Sounds , ZigZag , Melody Maker , the Village Voice , and the NME , and presents case studies of bands including Wire, PiL, Joy Division, the Raincoats, and Pere Ubu. By positioning post-punk in relation to genres such as punk, new wave, dub, and disco, Haddon reveals post-punk as a community of tastes and predilections rather than a stylistically unified whole. Haddon diversifies the discourse around post-punk, exploring both its gender and racial dynamics and its proto-industrial aesthetics to restore the historical complexity surrounding the genre's terms and origins.

A detailed exploration of an otherwise under-explored cultural phenomenon, What Is Post-Punk? is a significant addition to scholarship in popular music, of interest to scholars of genre theory and discourse analysis, including feminist and postcolonial discourse.

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The University of Michigan Press
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