Gayle Wald

Alt Text

Gayle Wald

Professor of English


Email: Gayle Wald
Office Phone: (202) 994-6180

Professor of English

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

I am an interdisciplinary scholar of African American literature and popular music and a cultural historian as well as a cultural theorist. I have published three books--"It's Been Beautiful": Soul! and Black Power Television (Duke UP, 2015)Shout, Sister, Shout!: The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe ;(Beacon, 2007), and Crossing the Line: Racial Passing in U.S. Literature and Culture ;  (Duke UP, 2000)--as well as a variety of articles, essays, and journalistic pieces about literature, popular music (from boy bands to punk rock to Motown to gospel), and visual media. My biography of Rosetta Tharpe has been translated to film (the 2011 documentary Godmother or Rock) and stage (the 2017 musical Shout, Sister, Shout!). Working within the traditions of black feminist thought, I am concerned with understanding the cultural agency of gendered and raced subjects, and I am drawn to issues 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. In English, I teach courses on contemporary (post-civil rights) black literature and culture, as well as survey courses of Black American literature. A former recipient of two NEH Fellowships and a Guggenheim Fellowship, I have served as co-editor of the Journal of Popular Music Studies, and currently serve as an editor of Bloomsbury's 33 1/3 series  of books about popular recordings. I am currently at work on a new book about children's music in the United States.

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


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 20th-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

Ph.D. Princeton University, 1995

B.A., University of Virginia, 1987