Imagine Otherwise: Nadine Hubbs on Listening Queerly

Imagine Otherwise: Nadine Hubbs on Listening Queerly

March 28, 2019

For this week’s Imagine Otherwise episode, I got to have a really fascinating conversation with musician and scholar Nadine Hubbs about why American classical music owes its existence to gay social networks; how Latinx millennials are showing that American country music is also Mexican; how dedicating serious time to a creative practice can actually help you get tenure; and why teaching students about the powerful community-building power of music is how Nadine imagines otherwise.


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You can also read the transcript and show notes on the Ideas on Fire website, which have links to Nadine’s work and all the concepts, people, and events we discuss on the show (great for teaching!).

Nadine Hubbs playing a yellow guitar

Guest: Nadine Hubbs

Nadine Hubbs is a historian, theorist, and musicologist-critic of popular and classical music. She is a professor of women’s and gender studies and music, and faculty affiliate in American culture, at the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor, where she directs the Lesbian-Gay-Queer Research Initiative.

In her writings, Hubbs listens closely to musical sounds and worlds to produce new perspectives of groups marginalized by sexuality, gender, class, race, and immigration. Hubbs is the author of two award-winning books: The Queer Composition of America’s Sound: Gay Modernists, American Music, and National Identity (University of California Press, 2004) and Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music (University of California Press, 2014). She is currently co-editing (with Francesca Royster) a special issue of the Journal of Popular Music Studies called Uncharted Country: New Voices and Perspectives in Country Music Studies and her new book project is titled Country Mexicans: Sounding Mexican-American Life, Love, and Belonging in Country Music.

Hubbs has long worked to broaden engagements with musical-social scholarship, across disciplines and publics. She works frequently with journalists, and her research has been featured in outlets including The Guardian, the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, the New York Times, Salon, Slate, the BBC, NPR, and Pacifica Radio.

Key quote

“What got me interested in studying the social and cultural significance of music was the fact that I had navigated the world as a queer person, a female person, a working-class person and the people and the worlds that I knew best were also working class and queer and often of color. The logics and languages I knew came from these worlds and they were vivid to me and powerful….I was driven by the lack of musical discourse on some of the worlds and experiences that I found compelling and sometimes brilliant. I wanted to speak from these worlds, into these worlds, and the worldviews that I knew and inhabited, which I saw as often unrepresented or misrepresented.”

– Nadine Hubbs on episode 85 of the Imagine Otherwise podcast


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