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‘We are turning cursive letters into knives’: the synthesis of the written word, sound and action in riot grrrl cultural resistance

Downes, Julia (2014). ‘We are turning cursive letters into knives’: the synthesis of the written word, sound and action in riot grrrl cultural resistance. In: Carroll, Rachel and Hansen, Adam eds. Litpop: Writing and Popular Music. Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series. Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 89–105.

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In spring 2007, I was writing a chapter on riot grrrl histories for Riot Grrrl Revolution Girl Style Now, volunteering at Ladyfest Leeds and the DIY feminist collective Manifesta, and playing drums in the all-girl band, Fake Tan. At that time there was little information about riot grrrl, especially in the UK, and I made it my doctoral mission to find its protagonists and see if they would be willing to share their stories with me. Riot grrrl seemed like a moment from which I could make sense of what my friends and I were trying to create in the UK: a DIY queer feminist community of fanzines, music, art and culture. Discovering artefacts and experiences of riot grrrl across the UK was addictive. Simultaneously, making and researching contemporary DIY feminist culture enabled me to see the interconnections of the written word and music in riot grrrl and contemporary queer feminist culture. The written word, in many guises, as manifestos, lyrics, band names, fliers, posters, notebooks and fanzines, is an integral part of the musical moments of riot grrrl. Riot grrrl critiqued and used language in provocative ways to encourage viewers, readers and listeners to shift their subjectivity and take action. Music performances - fused with sound, affect, bodies, words - helped construct radical subjectivities and cultural acts. This connection between the written word and music in riot grrrl is the focus of this chapter, which addresses the following questions: What work did words do? What did music add to the written word? What decisions were made in the creation, circulation and performance of riot grrrl music and writing?

Item Type: Book Section
Copyright Holders: 2014 Rachel Carroll, Adam Hansen and the contributors
ISBN: 1-4724-1097-1, 978-1-4724-1097-9
Keywords: popular music; feminism
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > History, Religious Studies, Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
Research Group: Harm and Evidence Research Collaborative (HERC)
Related URLs:
Item ID: 43904
Depositing User: Julia Downes
Date Deposited: 07 Aug 2015 09:32
Last Modified: 04 Oct 2016 11:48
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