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Professor Florence Dore recently published an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education: “My Rock ‘n’ Roll Sabbatical: A literature professor hits the road.”

She writes, “Over the 2022-23 academic year, I did not finish my new book, The Novel’s Mother: Cool Aesthetic Form in Contemporary Fiction. I spent my sabbatical on tour with my rock band instead.” 

Prof. Dore begins the piece by describing a phone call with a dissertation advisee that occurred while she was on the road during her rock tour. Even while pursuing her passion for rock music, Prof. Dore did not abandon her love of literature. Rather, the two have been intertwined throughout her life. 

Since she was in college at Wesleyan University, music and literature have been important aspects of Prof. Dore’s life: “I stayed up all night writing a paper on “Ode to a Nightingale” one night and practiced “Dancing Barefoot” with my band in a windowless room the next. I have no doubt that my 18-year-old-college-girl performances of Smith’s “strange music” were enabled by an 18-year-old-rock-girl’s excitement about Keats’s “plaintive anthem,” whipped up earlier in a classroom only a few doors down.” These passions have continued to be connected in Prof. Dore’s career, as her first book—Novel Sounds: Southern Fiction in the Age of Rock and Roll—argues that “popular music is endemic to the institutionalization of literature.” 

Prof. Dore discusses the recent rise of the public humanities, explaining that her rock tour came about because she “wanted to see whether a rock tour might serve as the platform for a more accessible version of humanities research.” Her band’s “regular shows in rock venues were interspersed with a different sort of event as well”; in addition to playing rock music, Prof. Dore delivered a public lecture on connections between rock ‘n’ roll and literature. 

Prof. Dore’s band was hauling boxes of her academic book Novel Sounds and her edited collection The Ink in the Grooves: Conversations on Literature and Rock ‘n’ Roll. The books soon became “scattered among several bins rather than sorted, as they should have been.” The tour was intended to break down boundaries between rock music and literature, Prof. Dore’s two passions, and Prof. Dore compares this scattering of books to how “partitions between the lectures and the rock shows broke down” on her tour. But that was the point. “Nothing was staying in its bin,” she quips. “And that was fine with me.”

Read Prof. Dore’s article here.

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