Profile: Susan Fast
Professor of Cultural Studies
Susan Fast is Professor in the Department of English and Cultural Studies, which she joined in 2007. Her research interests include representations of gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, constructions of self and other, performance and performativity, and geopolitical violence/conflict in contemporary popular music. She is author of the book In the Houses of the Holy: Led Zeppelin and the Power of Rock Music (Oxford, 2001), a collection of essays that explores the body in musical performance, gender and sexuality, cultural appropriation/hybridity, and ritual/mythology in rock music.
Her publications also include articles on Live Aid and cultural memory, constructions of authenticity in U2, performance and new technology, Tina Turner’s gendered and racialized identity in the 1960’s, issues of feminism and rock criticism, gendered and racialized issues surrounding back-up singing, and on the mass-mediated benefit concerts that appeared after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. She is co-editor of Music, Geopolitical Conflict and the Politics of Identity (Music/Culture series, Wesleyan University Press, forthcoming in 2010).
Her current project, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, investigates issues related to gender, race and normative genre boundaries in rock music; part of this study concentrates on the burgeoning scene of all-female tribute bands to hard rock and heavy metal.
NoteStreams By Susan Fast
Cary Wolfe, an English Professor and author of the book What is Posthumanism, writes that we are “fundamentally prosthetic creatures,” that we rely on entities outside the self – other humans, animals, technology – in order to function and thrive. Jackson celebrated the prosthetic idea of the human in a number of ways.
On the surface, it may seem as though U2 is suddenly seeking a return to the simpler times of its early years, both in their sound and their performances. But for those who have followed the band’s career closely, talk of returning to “roots” of some kind when a new record is released is nothing new for U2. If anything, it reveals the well-worn strategy of a band that seeks to remain relevant even as it ages – a pattern of alternating between radical experimentation and mining the myth of authenticity.