Shana Goldin-Perschbacher

Penn Humanities Forum Regional Fellow

20152016 Forum on Sex

Shana Goldin-Perschbacher

Assistant Professor of Music
Temple University

Shana Goldin-Perschbacher studies music and identity.  Her current research examines transgender, gender binary non-conforming, and queer people's performances and reception of Americana/roots/folk music.  Her publications include “‘The World Has Made Me The Man of My Dreams’: Meshell Ndegeocello and the ‘problem’ of Black female masculinity” in Popular Music, “Icelandic Nationalism, Difference Feminism, and Björk’s Maternal Aesthetic” in Women and Music, “‘Not With You But of You’: ‘Unbearable Intimacy’ and Jeff Buckley’s Transgendered Vocality” in Oh Boy!: Masculinities and Popular Music, and an article on Antony and the Johnsons for the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Queerness and Music.  Goldin-Perschbacher was the first queer studies postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University, a postdoctoral fellow in music in the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in the Humanities at Stanford, and a lecturer in LGBT Studies at Yale University. She graduated from the first class of Ph.D. students in Critical and Comparative Studies in Music at the University of Virginia where her dissertation was supported by an American Association of University Women fellowship. 


Over the last fifteen years, Americana music has become popular among transgender and queer musicians. Bands including Girlyman, Coyote Grace, Rae Spoon, Namoli Brennet, My Gay Banjo, Geo Wyeth, Actor Slash Model, Schmekel, Bethel Steele, Humble Tripe, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Eli Conley, Ryan Cassatta, and Ben Wallace have played acoustic instruments, sung in close harmony, and written autobiographical songs that feature rural spaces, working class characters, and references to religion and journey. But their relationship with Americana is complex – selling trans and/or queer embodiments of North American “folk” personae in musically convincing performances of homespun roots. Further tensions arise as bands attract a womyn’s music audience, highlighting that only some “roots” are acceptable: transgender male singer songwriters may out themselves as former lesbians, but transgender women musicians are unwelcome at The Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival.  TransAmericana identifies a meaningful development in modern transgender life and contemporary music, using ethnography to explore its cultural politics, musical analysis to unpack its compelling aesthetics, and historical contextualization to understand its complicated dance with gender, genre, and tradition.