Gayle Wald

Gayle Wald

Professor of English
Room 624A
Address: Phillips Hall
Phone: 202-994-6180

Areas of Expertise

African American literature, U.S. popular music cultures, cultural theory, race theory, feminist and gender studies.


Professor of English

Current Research

In spring 2015, I published "It's Been Beautiful"Soul! and Black Power TV (Duke University Press). The book is about the historic public broadcasting show Soul!, the first and only national TV program to highlight black performing artists and intellectuals. The show aired at the height of Black Power, from 1968 to 1973, and it constitutes a remarkable archive of black performance, especially music; it also contributes to our understanding of Black Arts and BLack Power. In general my work has been concerned with understanding cultural representations of the agency of gendered and raced subjects. This concern links my first book, Crossing the Line, about representations of racial passing, (Duke UP, 2000) to my Rosetta Tharpe biography Shout, Sister, Shout! (Beacon, 2007) to my work on Soul!. It also threads through my articles on popular music, which range on topics from Motown girl groups (Journal of Popular Music Studies, 2012) to "girly" boy bands (Genders, 2001). In the last decade, my work increasingly has combined cultural theory with cultural history; I am particularly drawn to the issue of cultural "forgetting" (why we remember or forget; what we remember or forget) and to the ongoing construction of the archives of American and African American culture. My work is based in my training as a literary scholar, but I teach and research in the multidisciplinary fields of Africana studies and American studies, with which I am also affiliated at GW. Although I have written for university presses, I am interested in academic work that addresses broad audiences of readers. I am co-editor of the Journal of Popular Music Studies, the house publication of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music.


Ph.D. Princeton University, 1995

B.A., University of Virginia, 1987



It's Been Beautiful: Soul! and Black Power Television ( Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015).

Shout, Sister, Shout! The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe ( Boston: Beacon Press, 2007).

Crossing the Line: Racial Passing in 20 th-Century U.S. Literature and Culture. New Americanists series. (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2000).

Recent Articles

“ 'Deliver de Letter': 'Please Mr. Postman," the Marvelettes, and the Afro-Caribbean Imaginary," Journal of Popular Music Studies, 24, 3 (2012): 325-32.

"Soul Vibrations: Black Music and Black Freedom in Sound and Space,” American Quarterly 63, 3 (2011): 673-96.

“Dreaming of Michael Jackson: Notes on Jewish Listening,” Casden Annual, 8 (2011): 1-8.

Passing Strange and post-civil rights blackness,” Humanities Research 16, 1 (2010), np. (online publication). Special Issue on “Passing, Imitations, Crossings” edited by Monique Rooney and Carolyn Strange.

"Rosetta Tharpe and Feminist 'Un-forgetting,'" Journal of Women's History 21, 4 (Winter 2009): 157-160.

"Same Difference: Racial Masculinity in Hong Kong and Cop-Buddy 'Hybrids,'" in Chinese Connections: Critical Perspectives on Film, Identity, and Diaspora, ed. Tan See-Kam, Peter X Feng, and Gina Marchetti (Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press, 2009), 68-81.

"Women Do Dylan: The Aesthetics and Politics of Dylan Covers," (with Daphne Brooks) Highway 61 Revisited: Bob Dylan's Road from Minnesota to the World, ed. Colleen J. Sheehy and Thomas Swiss (Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 2009.)

“Reviving Rosetta Tharpe: Performance and Memory in the 21 st Century,” Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory 16, 1 (March 2006): 91-106.

“Have a Little Talk: Listening to the B-side of History,” Popular Music 24, 3 (2005): 323-37. Cited as a "Notable Essay of 2005" in Da Capo Best Music Writing 2006: The Year's Finest Writing on Rock, Hip Hop, Jazz, Pop, Country, and More, ed. Mary Gaitskill and Daphne Carr (New York: Da Capo, 2006).

“From Spirituals to Swing: Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Gospel Crossover,” American Quarterly 55, 3 (September 2003): 387-416.

`I Want It That Way’: Teenybopper Music and the Girling of Boy Bands.Genders 35 (Spring 2001).

“Clueless in the Neocolonial World Order.” Camera Obscura: A Journal of Feminism and Film Theory, 42 (September 1999): 51-69.

Related Links
My Website
Journal of Popular Music Studies

Classes Taught

Literature of the Americas
'Post-Soul' African American Literature and Culture
Identity and Popular Music Culture
Black Popular Music Cultures
Major Authors: Lorraine Hansberry
20th C. African American Drama and Performance
Black "Audio-Biography" (on musicians' auto/biographies)
African American Literature (pre-1900; post-1900)s
Graduate courses on: Identity Politics, Cultural Studies