1- Why Should Patti Smith Write? Can New Memoirs Recontextualize Old Scholarship? - Brittany Greening, Dalhousie University

11:30 AM, Sunday 26 May 2019 (2 hours)
An increasing number of female rock ‘n’ roll performers have published personal memoirs in the past decade, among them Cherie Currie of the Runaways,Viv Albertine of the Slits, Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, and Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney. Each of these memoirs has garnered scholarly attention for their proffered insights into the experiences and performance strategies of these key women in rock ‘n’ roll. Patti Smith, too, has recently written about her time as an emerging musician in the late 1970s. Unlike her fellow female rock memoirists, however, Smith has built a career that hinges as strongly on her written work as it does on her musical output, in part because of her introduction into rock ‘n’ roll through poetry writing and performance. Furthermore, Smith has produced three works of non-fiction in the past decade, as opposed to only one, all of which include some memoiric elements: Just Kids(2010), M Train(2015), and Why I Write: Devotion (2017). In this presentation, I explore the role that Smith’s retrospective memoirs have played in understanding, analyzing, and conceptualizing the various facets of her early career as a rock ‘n’ roll musician. I also consider the role of scholarship that predates these memoirs; does it maintain its relevance without the insights provided by Smith’s recent memoirs? What happens to scholarship that is contradicted by the content of an artist’s subsequent memoirs?
Dalhousie University
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