Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson: Critical Reflection on a Life & a Phenomenon

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Thu, 10/01/2009 - 15:00 to 18:00

THANK YOU TO ALL WHO ATTENDED! 

VIDEO OF THE PRESENTATIONS WILL BE INCLUDED SOON!!

 

MICHAEL JACKSON: CRITICAL REFLECTION ON A LIFE & A PHENOMENON
A symposium sponsored by the Center for Race and Gender, UC Berkeley

New Location:
BECHTEL ENGINEERING CENTER
SIBLEY AUDITORIUM
UC Berkeley
Berkeley, CA

Scholars & artists reflect on the legacy of Michael Jackson on performance & artistry, racial & sexual politics, and cultural representations.  Featuring the following presenters:

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I'm Not Gonna Spend My Life Being A Color


Prof Tamara Roberts, UC Berkeley Music Department

What is popular music? Is it white or black? Do African American practices become more “white” as they enter the music economy? Or does the extended reign of hip-hop indicate that, really, pop music has just been “black” all along? Is there a racial connotation to the notion of the “mainstream”? As the King of Pop and oft-discussed racial chameleon, Michael Jackson is perfectly poised as a figure through which to investigate these questions.

In this presentation, Professor Tamara Roberts, UC Berkeley, suggest that instead of reading Jackson’s artistic journey as one from black to white, we instead look at the ways he muddied the divide between dominant conceptions of what constitutes “white” and “black” music. To explore this idea, she discusses some of Jackson’s musical strategies that diverge from the standards of the various African American traditions he incorporated into his work. Instead of simply performing pop music that is “whiter,” Roberts argues that Jackson’s work can more productively be read as a particular vein of more experimental, “Afrofuturistic” musical practice.

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Who's Bad?: Michael Jackson's Movements

Meghan Pugh, PhD Candidate, UC Berkeley English Department

Meghan Pugh, PhD Candidate, UC Berkeley English Department, explores Jackson's dancing in the context of debates about race, gender, and American dance history. Jackson drew on a rich tradition of black vernacular dancing stretching back to the nineteenth-century, when Billy Kersands first did the Virginia Essence—the sliding, backwards step Jackson would make his own as the moonwalk—on the minstrel stage. Jackson also channeled the thrusting pelvis and wobbly hips of Elvis, a white man famous for singing like a black man.

Meghan Pugh, PhD Candidate, UC Berkeley English Department, explores Jackson's dancing in the context of debates about race, gender, and American dance history. Jackson drew on a rich tradition of black vernacular dancing stretching back to the nineteenth-century, when Billy Kersands first did the Virginia Essence—the sliding, backwards step Jackson would make his own as the moonwalk—on the minstrel stage. Jackson also channeled the thrusting pelvis and wobbly hips of Elvis, a white man famous for singing like a black man. See a full slideshow of Meghan's retrospective of Michael Jackson and dance here:
http://www.ew.com/ew/package/0,,20288349_20289412,00.html

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