Steffen Just is research fellow at the Berlin Cluster of Excellence SCRIPTS. In 2018, he completed his Phd with a study on subject performances in US-American popular music at the Department of Musicology and Media Science of Humboldt University (Berlin). From 2017 to 2019, he also served there as a research assistant at the chair for Popular Music Studies. His research interest include: the cultural history of music, music and media aesthetics, sonified representations of race, gender and sexuality, sound studies, music and performance analysis.
My doctoral thesis, "Performances zwischen Anderem und Selbst. Eine Geschichte des Subjekts in der US-amerikanischen populären Musik, 1890-1960", examined performances of subject representations in US-American popular music in the period from 1890 to 1960 (often referred to as the Tin Pan Alley-era). I analyzed (audio-visual) subject portrayals in popular music and demonstrated how these were connected to historically distinct performative strategies. These strategies of portrayal answered to changing aesthetic conventions, media formats, cultural orders and discourses. Over the course of seventy years, performers would adopt various styles of singing, stage movement and appearance in order to affirm and challenge social hegemonies of the subject. The study shows how popular music formed an important cultural arena for the reproduction and contestation of cultural norms with a special focus on race, class and gender.