The Cultural and Gender Politics of Enunciation

Locating the Singer-Songwriter within and beyond Male Anglo-American Contexts


  • Duncan Wheeler University of Leeds
  • Lucy O'Brien University for the Creative Arts at Epsom



Lucy O’Brien, singer-wongwriter, Europe, sexism, gender


This conversation between Lucy O’Brien and Duncan Wheeler seeks to establish a dialogue between musicologists and modern-language specialists to interrogate how their respective disciplinary and biographical questions might address a series of overarching themes and questions—sexism and gender-inflected ageism in the music industry; reclaiming silenced female and non Anglophone singer songwriters; the complex and frequently contradictory interrelationships between sex, art and commerce—in order to undertake a common endeavour: decentring a canon that remains disproportionately Anglo American and male.

Author Biographies

  • Duncan Wheeler, University of Leeds

    Duncan Wheeler is Associate Professor in Spanish at the University of Leeds. He is currently working on his second-single authored monograph The Cultural Politics of Spain's Transition to Democracy: Art, Power and Governance (Bloomsbury) and is the author of over twenty-five peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. A published translator and media commentator, Duncan Wheeler is also subject editor for Modern Language Review and The Literary Encyclopedia.

  • Lucy O'Brien, University for the Creative Arts at Epsom

    Lucy O’Brien is Senior Lecturer in Music & Lifestyle Journalism in the School of Fashion at the University for the Creative Arts. Her specialist areas of research are gender; popular music theory; history and identity; subcultures, particularly punk, hip hop and soul; music and media; fan culture; stars and audiences. She has worked as a journalist/broadcaster for 25 years; her publications include She Bop: The History of Women in Popular Music (now in its third edition), and the in-depth biography Madonna: Like an Icon, which was translated into 13 languages.


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Benatar, Pat and Patsi Bale Cox. 2010. A Memoir: Between a Heart and a Rock Place. New York: HarperCollins.

Cohen, Sara. 1997. “Men Making a Scene: Popular Music and the Production of Genre”. In Sexing the Groove: Popular Music and Gender, edited by Sheila Whiteley, 17–36. London: Routledge.

Cordier, Adeline. 2013. “Chanson and Tacit Misogyny”. Journal of European Popular Culture 4/1: 37–49.

O’Brien, Lucy. 2012. She Bop: The Definitive History of Women’s Popular Music. 3rd edn. London: Jawbone.

Reddington, Helen. 2012. The Lost Women of Rock Music: Female Musicians of the Punk Era. Sheffield: Equinox.

Thornton, Sarah. 1995. Club Cultures: Music, Media and Subcultural Capital. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Wheeler, Duncan. 2014. Spanish Songs of the Transition. Oxford: Oxbow.





Singing, Songwriting and Gender

How to Cite

Wheeler, D., & O'Brien, L. (2015). The Cultural and Gender Politics of Enunciation: Locating the Singer-Songwriter within and beyond Male Anglo-American Contexts. Journal of World Popular Music, 1(2), 228-248.