Research is Hard

Unfortunately, as I begin to research a new topic, I am still having some of the same issues as I did with my last topic. Much of what I’ve had trouble with is simply not knowing what to search to read about what I want to learn. When I was writing about Hildegard, this was unfortunate but not surprising; I basically had to make my own connections because the connection between Hildegard’s music and music of the Black church hasn’t been made before. I assumed that this new topic–gender and theology in gospel music–would be a road better traveled. However, because I haven’t extensively studied theology, theologies of music, or gospel music/singers, I’m having a lot of trouble just figuring out what searches will bring up relevant sources. So far, I’ve tried combinations of gender/wom*/fem*/gospel/religi*/names of gospel singers. I’ve found a lot of articles that look interesting, but I’m not quite sure how I’ll make an argument out of them.

Based on what I’ve read so far, here are some concepts I’d like to try to connect or find out more about:

Black women as “musical missionaries” (Jerma A. Jackson)–looking at Rosetta Tharpe as an example

Judith Butler’s thoughts on sound/music–more about popular music, but could apply the concepts

Article titled “On Exoticism, Western Art Music, and the Words We Use” by Ralph P. Locke–haven’t read the whole thing yet, but has a lot of important perspectives that I’d like to incorporate, esp. because I don’t want this paper to turn into a study of the “exotic other.”

Useful article by Tammy L. Kernodle that gives an overview of African-American women’s contributions to gospel’s evolution–I will use this to find more search terms/research specific people

Idea that African American men in gospel quartets served as role models for the community–so were women singing gospel also role models or is that transgressive?

Another article by Kernodle exploring Black women’s relationships with each other in musical groups–disproving the myth that they can’t work together because they’re too competitive/focused on men–and how they can validate each other and work together (female friendships are the happiest side of women’s and gender studies so hopefully this fits somehow so I get to talk about this!!)

Possibly how freedom songs/activism grew out of the gospel movement–music as a catalyst for change–this might be pushing it too far out of the topic.

Identity and sound and embodiment of music/theology in a certain type of body

So, these ideas are a little scattered right now but I see promising prospects. I hope to find some kind of common thread that will help me focus the topic, but also find enough to talk about.

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