Call for Chapters for Edited Volume:
Viva Las Vegas: Music and Myth in America’s City of Second Chances
Editor: Jake Johnson (Oklahoma City University)
Las Vegas has been an important commercial hub for live and recorded music for most of the twentieth century. It is also arguably the most American of America's cities--as art critic Dave Hickey put it, at least in Vegas “the payoffs are posted and the odds easily calculable.” Largely, however, the critical attention toward place and music industry has privileged other American commercial centers, namely Los Angeles and New York City. Despite Las Vegas’s rich musical entanglements, in fact, a full study of the musical and cultural values of the city has not yet emerged. Viva Las Vegas sets out to examine the sonic place-making and musical mythologies surrounding America’s City of Second Chances.
This book will investigate venues of fantasy and myth-making during this critical moment when broader mythos of America have become political and cultural lightning rods. Contributors to this volume will consider collectively the values and perspectives of music-making in, around, and through Las Vegas. This book places itself alongside vibrant studies of popular music and place, including Stacy Wolf’s study of amateur and community musical theater in America; Barry Shank’s investigation of various music “scenes” in Austin, Texas; Fred Bartenstein and Curtis W. Ellison’s illumination of bluegrass networks in southwestern Ohio; and my own work on religious communities in the middle of America employing popular music to slow the creep of modernity. It also joins robust scholarly intrigue in media studies, sound studies, queer studies, and critical geography, situated within and between a number of developing transdisciplinary spaces. Making a book (and making book) on Las Vegas seems a safe bet for a rapidly expanding American music studies: what happens in Vegas should no longer stay in Vegas.
Performers and scholars from all disciplines are invited to consider broadly the musical and sonic histories, intersections, and mythologies of Las Vegas both on and off the Strip. Contributions should ideally aim to engage undergraduate-level readers as well as craft important inroads in understanding mythology, music/sound, and place in Las Vegas. The University of Illinois Press has expressed strong interest in including this volume in its celebrated Music in American Life book series. Topics as related in or about music might include, but are not limited to:
- Soundworlds of casino culture
- Gay icons and spectacle
- America’s class system
- The Las Vegas and Los Angeles relationship
- Magic and fantasy
- Historiography of the music industry
- Theater, vaudeville, cabaret, and burlesque
- Broadway transplants
- Cirque du Soleil
- Indigenous histories of place and sound
- Displays of difference
- Age and performance
- Echoes of Las Vegas throughout the world (i.e., Vegas as signifier and structural form)
- The soundscape of Las Vegas in film and memory
- Mythologies surrounding or enveloped through noted performers, such as: Elvis Presley, Wayne Newton, Sonny Bono and Cher, Donnie and Marie Osmond, Liberace, Céline Dion, Britney Spears, Frank Sinatra, Noël Coward, Olivia Newton John, etc.
- Lesser known musical figures and communities of Las Vegas, especially those off the Strip
Please submit abstracts of c. 500 words and a 100-word bio to jvjohnson -at- okcu.edu by January 1, 2021. Selected proposals will be invited to be developed into chapters of up to 6,000-7,000 words, due by November 2021.
Publication Schedule (Provisional)
1 January 2021: Abstracts due
1 February 2021: Notification of acceptance
1 November 2021: Full chapters due
15 November 2021: Chapters sent out for external review
30 March 2022: Reviews returned to authors
30 May 2022: Deadline for revised versions of chapters
June 2022: Final manuscript submitted to the Press
Editor contact details:
Jake Johnson is an Associate Professor of Musicology at Oklahoma City University’s Wanda L. Bass School of Music. His research asks how America’s beliefs in and practices of belonging sound, and has most recently tracked the everyday practice of American musical theater among religious communities. Jake is the author of numerous articles and two books: Mormons, Musical Theater, and Belonging in America (Illinois, 2019) and the forthcoming Lying in the Middle: Musical Theater and Belief at the Heart of America (Illinois, 2021).