Lindsay Bernhagen

Lindsay Bernhagen is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Comparative Studies at The Ohio State University. Her dissertation, which gestures toward an expanded theory of musical subjectivity, explores the popularity of gendered musical contexts in terms of the shared musical experiences that are had therein.



"'Everyone here is a little weird!': Gender and Musical Intersubjectivity at the Girlz Rhythm 'n' Rock Camp"

Girls’ rock camps, which emerged in the wake of riot grrrl, are increasingly popular with more than thirty annual camps being held in the U.S. each summer. The growing number of camps alongside the expansion of their popularity into other media venues (notably, a how-to book and a feature-length documentary) suggests that these gender-specific musical programs are providing an important experience for girls. Popular understandings of what constitutes that import have been mediated through the voices of adult women who tend to de-emphasize music in favor of the “more important” goal of girls’ empowerment. As an example, in a recent LA Times video covering the 2011 Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls-Los Angeles, the campers’ voices are absent for the duration of the two-minute piece. Instead, the girls are reduced to the visual—posing for the camera, moving disembodied hands across guitar frets—while a woman’s voice extols girls’ empowerment. Drawing on my interactions at a girls’ rock camp in Ohio, I resist the tendency to elevate an uninterrogated notion of “girls’ empowerment” as the primary achievement of camp. Alternatively, I rely on girls’ own articulations of their camp experiences to highlight how the specifically musical context is implicated in their negotiation of subjectivity. As one camper said, “My favorite part about camp is the people and being able to have a focus on music for a week. It’s just normal because everybody here loves to play music, so they’re walking around singing. Usually, most other places, I’m the only one who’s randomly singing songs and dancing.”


My Speakers Sessions

Saturday, March 24

4:00pm EDT