Lectures

Class of 1960 Lecture
Prof. Steve Waksman
“Death Trip: Iggy Pop and Rock Performance”

“Death Trip: Iggy Pop and Rock Performance”

Professor Steve Waksman of Smith College will give a lecture titled Death Trip: Iggy Pop and Rock Performance. on Thursday, April 22, at 4:15 p.m. in Brooks-Rogers on the Williams College campus. This lecture is sponsored by the Class of 1960 Scholars Fund and is both free and open to the public.

Professor Waksman has provided the following description of his lecture: “During his career with the rock band, the Stooges, Iggy Pop was the most confrontational rock performer of the 1970s, a figure who presented a constant challenge to the audiences for whom he played. Channeling the aggression of the Stooges’ proto-punk brand of rock and roll, Iggy at times inflicted violence upon himself, at other times seemed bent on inciting the audience to its own acts of destruction. Doing so, he epitomized the move away from the utopian idealism that surrounded much of 1960s rock music and culture, and marked a shift towards a darker, more ambivalent set of impulses that rose to the surface of rock in the 1970s. Iggy’s ambivalence could be seen in his uneasy embodiment of masculinity, which teetered between power and victimization. It could be seen in a different way in the manner in which he tested the boundary between audience and performer, and posed a decisive challenge to the symbolic armor, the sense of untouchability, constructed around the figure of the rock star in the early 1970s.”


Steve Waksman is associate professor of music and American studies; he joined the Smith faculty in the fall of 2001. His research and teaching interests are in the history of U.S. popular culture—especially music, but also film, television, and literature—during the 19th and 20th centuries, and in the intersection of race, gender and sexuality.

Dr. Waksman is the author of two books: Instruments of Desire: The Electric Guitar and the Shaping of Musical Experience (Harvard University Press, 1999) and This Ain’t the Summer of Love: Conflict and Crossover in Heavy Metal and Punk (University of California, 2009). An essay drawn from the latter, “Grand Funk Live! Staging Rock in the Age of the Arena,” is included in the collection, Listen Again: A Momentary History of Pop Music, published by Duke University Press.

Dr. Waksman’s essays on the guitar have appeared in the Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World and The Cambridge Companion to the Guitar, among other publications, and in November 2008 he was the keynote speaker at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s American Music Masters conference honoring the legacy of Les Paul. In 1998, his dissertation on the electric guitar won the Ralph Henry Gabriel Prize awarded by the American Studies Association.

Currently, Dr. Waksman is researching a new project on the history of live music in the U.S. from the 19th century to the present.

The Class of 1960 Scholars Fund, established at their 25th Reunion, brings eminent researchers from other colleges and universities to campus to give colloquia.