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Music Memoir Research Group

This research group was founded in 2018, following the highly successful ‘You’re Twisting My Memory’ conference.

The Music Memoir Research Group provides a unique look at the contemporary cultural phenomenon of the music memoir and, leading from this, the way that music is used to construct memory.

Scholars in literature, creative writing, musicology and cultural history are collaborating in a growing interdisciplinary field. Research is developing new critical models and methodologies for analysis while practitioners are shaping performance and composition through knowing references to cultural memory.

This research group seeks to work with and support a range of interdisciplinary researchers and practitioners interested in the expanding range of music narratives and textual representations of music and their relationship to individual and collective experience.

Get in touch

We collaborate with colleagues at other Universities, and we are keen to hear from researchers interested in further interdisciplinary and cross form collaboration on any aspect of music, memory and memoir.

We are interested in enquiries from prospective PhD candidates examining project proposals looking at textual discussion and representations of popular music in critical and/or creative forms. We are particularly interested in music memoir, music narratives, music and memory, music spaces, regionality, and nostalgia but we would be happy to discuss any proposals.

Follow us on X (formerly known as Twitter) for more information: @musicmemoirysju

Research activity


Mann, F, Edgar, R, and Pleasance, H, (eds.) (Forthcoming) Venue Stories, Equinox Books: Sheffield

Venue Stories is an anthology of creative non-fiction that remembers, celebrates and reinvigorates our complex and plural relationship with small and independent music spaces. Written by musicians, promoters, fans and academics who have a shared passion for small music venues and musical cultures in all their splendid variety, this anthology features memoir, essays, life writing, historiography and autoethnography. Each chapter is united by a focus on the personal, the sensory and half-remembered. These are stories that cross disciplinary lines and blur distinctions between creativity, reportage and critical analysis.

Venue Stories pays a visit to the toilet venues, back rooms and ad-hoc club nights that make up so much of our musical landscape. It spends time in small and local venues and asks what they mean in personal and cultural terms. Writers visit celebrated spots, long forgotten spaces and emergent venues. Whatever the lineage, they are independent, original and wonderfully weird. The stories are memories of seismic gigs and life-altering raves. They are mosaic remembrances and recollections; funny, heart-breaking, rage induced and sometimes a combination of all of these things. This is a collection of stories by and for fans, band members, merch sellers, pint pullers, journalists with a freebie, roadies with a backache and sound techs with an earache.

Go to book: Venue Stories

Edgar, R, Mann, F, Pleasance, H (2019) Music, Memory and Memoir, Bloomsbury: New York

Music, Memory and Memoir provides a unique look at the contemporary cultural phenomenon of the music memoir and, leading from this, the way that music is used to construct memory. Via analyses of memoirs that consider punk and pop, indie and dance, this text examines the nature of memory for musicians and the function of music in creating personal and cultural narratives.

This book includes innovative and multidisciplinary approaches from a range of contributors consisting of academics, critics and musicians, evaluating this phenomenon from multiple academic and creative practices, and examines the contemporary music memoir in its cultural and literary contexts.

Go to book: Music, Memory and Memoir

Journal articles

Edgar, Robert, Mann, Fraser and Pleasance, Helen (2019) Music, Memory and Memoir: Critical and creative engagement with an emerging genre. Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, 12 (1-2). pp. 181-199

In this article, we outline and explore a plural and flexible methodology for engaging with the contemporary music memoir. These are texts in which narrative experimentation and self-conscious interrogations of voice shape content. They are texts that blur and blend the lines between memory, storytelling and myth. They offer a literate and culturally engaged reader the opportunity to shape their own musical histories and memories.

We view these titles as a new and emerging genre. Our work, which we are developing in a forthcoming edited collection entitled Music, Memory and Memoir, approaches this fluid genre with a fluid methodology. We combine scholarly rigor and critical analysis in our readings of text but these combine with an open-ended and reflexive approach to our own critical and cultural voices.

Go to article: Music, Memory and Memoir



‘You’re Twisting My Memory Man’: Music, Memory and Memoir, York St John University, July 2018

This conference included contributions from scholars, from those working in the music industry and from those who simply enjoy discussing their formative music histories. The interdisciplinary conference included fans, academics, performers and performances.

Go to conference blog: Twisting my schedule

Conference presentation

  • Venue Stories – International Conference of Autoethnography, July 2021
  • Music, Memory and Memoir – an emerging genre, Writing the noise, the politics and history of subcultural music, Subculture Network, Reading University, September 2018
  • Hiatus: Music, Memory and Liminal Authenticity, Storying the Self, Brighton University, June 2017

Group members

Robert Edgar

Dr Robert Edgar

Associate Professor in Creative Writing

Dr Fraser Mann

Senior Lecturer in English Literature

Dr Helen Pleasance

Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing

Amy McCarthy

PhD Researcher, Literature

Christian Smith

PhD Researcher, Media