Academic Journal Devotes an Entire Issue to Prince’s Life & Music: Read and Download It for Free

Image by Ann Alt­house, via Flickr Com­mons

For decades now, aca­d­e­mics have made pop­u­lar cul­ture a wor­thy area of study, from hip hop, com­ic books, and Hol­ly­wood film and tele­vi­sion to video games and inter­net cul­ture. And for just as long, there have been those who sneered at the dis­ci­plines emerg­ing around pop cul­ture stud­ies. But real­ly, what are we to do with some­one like Prince, some­one so clear­ly, pro­found­ly, a musi­cal genius, with such an out­sized impact on pop­u­lar cul­ture, that he can­not help being a major his­tor­i­cal fig­ure just a year and a half after his death?

Devote an entire jour­nal issue to him, of course, as the Jour­nal of African Amer­i­can Stud­ies did this past Sep­tem­ber. This is not, by far, Prince’s first appear­ance in a schol­ar­ly pub­li­ca­tion. And a slew of aca­d­e­m­ic con­fer­ences devot­ed to the artist this past year has raised him to the aca­d­e­m­ic sta­tus achieved by oth­er megas­tars like Bruce Spring­steen and Pink Floyd. This spe­cial jour­nal issue, how­ev­er, may be one of the most com­pre­hen­sive col­lec­tions of Prince schol­ar­ship you’re like­ly to find online. And unlike the major­i­ty of aca­d­e­m­ic arti­cles, these are all free. Just click the “Down­load PDF” link under each title found on this page.

The issue was pub­lished to coin­cide with the 40th anniver­sary of Prince’s sign­ing with Warn­er Broth­ers in 1977, the day he “turned pro.” The fol­low­ing year, he released the debut album For You, to mod­est crit­i­cal suc­cess. While it didn’t make him a star overnight, For You announced him as a vir­tu­oso, “as Prince played every instru­ment and sang all the vocals, some­thing unheard of, then and now.” Prince’s musi­cal skill could be tak­en for grant­ed. It is easy to do with an artist who recon­fig­ured cul­ture in so many ways that had noth­ing to do with play­ing gui­tar or piano.

Prince’s rad­i­cal, if very com­pli­cat­ed, rede­f­i­n­i­tion of gen­der and cul­tur­al expres­sion pro­vides an exam­ple, writes Deirdre T. Guion Peo­ples, of “Opti­mal Dis­tinc­tive­ness,” in the way he “nego­ti­at­ed his social iden­ti­ty.” He lived an ardent, con­sis­tent­ly utopi­an vision in his music and also in his life; and his “sin­gu­lar vision of utopia cast women as essen­tial to its cre­ation,” notes H. Zahra Cald­well. And Prince’s “cre­ative prac­tices,” James Gor­don Williams argues, “were linked to his covert, but avid, sup­port of social jus­tice ini­tia­tives that sup­port black human­i­ty.”

These ten arti­cles elab­o­rate things we thought we knew about Prince, but maybe didn’t, and intro­duce us to aspects of his life and work we’ve nev­er con­sid­ered. They are joined by sev­en essays and per­son­al reflec­tions and two book reviews. Read online or down­load the spe­cial Prince issue here.

via @WFMU

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Read Prince’s First Inter­view, Print­ed in His High School News­pa­per (1976)

The Life of Prince in a 24-Page Com­ic Book: A New Release

Bruce Spring­steen and Pink Floyd Get Their First Schol­ar­ly Jour­nals and Aca­d­e­m­ic Con­fer­ences

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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Comments (14)
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  • Matt Hill says:

    Shows up behind a pay­wall. How do you access the free ver­sion?

  • Holly Wehmeyer says:

    I’m hav­ing the same prob­lem. The links go to the Springer site, which requires pay­ment for each PDF.

  • Alex Cho says:

    Is this no longer free?

  • Frank Bach says:

    Not free. I encoun­tered the same prob­lem.

  • Adam G says:

    Same prob­lem here. It looks like it’s $39.95 to access / down­load the files. Has any­one found out if there is a way to obtain for free?

    • Dan Colman says:

      Appar­ent­ly they put the issue behind a pay­wall after we pub­lished our post. Wish they had­n’t but we unfor­tu­nate­ly can’t change that.

      Sor­ry for the incon­ve­nience,
      Dan (edi­tor)

  • Connie Crosby says:

    Same 🙁

  • C Haynes says:

    Same prob­lem. Has any­one found out how to down­load the “Free” ver­sion? I’m des­per­ate for it. 💜

  • Anne says:

    Check with your local college/university library. They may have either a print or online sub­scrip­tion.

  • Stephanie says:

    It looks like some­one cor­rect­ed it! The down­load links are here now:

  • Judson L. Jeffries, PhD says:

    Dr. Jones,

    I’d like to take this oppor­tu­ni­ty to thank you for com­ment­ing on this spe­cial issue of the Jour­nal of African Amer­i­can Stud­ies. No, this is not the first time that Prince has been the sub­ject of a ref­er­eed jour­nal arti­cle over the years. To be clear, how­ev­er, this spe­cial issue is the first of its kind. No oth­er jour­nal in the world has ever devot­ed an entire vol­ume to this musi­cal genius. Dr. Cochran and I are hard at work on a edit­ed book titled Prince and the Min­neapo­lis Sound, which should see the light of day by late 2019.

    Just FYI: Accord­ing to the pub­lish­er, the arti­cles in this vol­ume will soon be inac­ces­si­ble. The pub­lish­er typ­i­cal­ly makes arti­cles avail­able for a month or two. I arranged for an exten­sion. That exten­sion is near its end.

  • jurgen lakhal says:

    I am still not able to find the link to down­load it…

  • Douglas Burress says:

    It’s still behind a pay wall.

  • Douglas Burress says:

    It’s still behind a pay­wall.

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