Welcome to the 2021 University of Illinois Press Association for Asian American Studies (AAAS) Virtual Exhibit! While we wish this could be an in-person event, we’re still excited to show you our Asian American scholarship collection. Enjoy books, journal articles, author interviews, and more in this virtual exhibit! Also, make sure to use promo code AAAS21 for 50% off Asian American studies books on our website April 7- 10, 2021. Buy three books and get a free copy of Women, Gender, and Families of Color (Fall 2021 issue)!

Association of University Presses Statement Against Anti-Asian Violence

New Books in the Asian American Experience Series, edited by Eiichiro Azuma, Jigna Desai, Martin Manalansan IV, Lisa Sun-Hee Park, and David K. Yoo

New Books in Asian American Studies

Virtual Book Fair

Chen Yi AAAS

University of Illinois Press Journals featuring Asian American Studies Scholarship

The Journal of American Ethnic History addresses various aspects of North American immigration history and American ethnic history.
Women, Gender, and Families of Color is a multidisciplinary journal that centers on the study of Black, Latina, Indigenous, and Asian American women, gender, and families.

Let’s Talk

Dominique Moore has joined the University of Illinois Press as an acquisitions editor!

Her academic background includes a BA in English with a minor in gender and women’s studies at UIUC and a MA in African American studies from UCLA. An Illinois native, she is returning to the Land of Lincoln and brings experience, knowledge, and passion to her acquisitions in Black studies, women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, and American ethnic studies.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

In May 2020, the Press celebrated Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and shared several notable Asian American titles on the UIP blog.

virtual exhibit virtual exhibit AAAS virtual exhibit

To find out more about these featured titles and other Asian Pacific American scholarship, read the full blog post here.

Browse Our Subject Catalog

Free Ebook Giveaway

University of Illinois Press on Spotify

Listen to Leta E. Miller and J. Michele Edwards’s Chen Yi Playlist:

Further Reading from Our Authors, Editors, and More

We recently chatted with author Jennifer McClearen about her new book, Fighting Visibility: Sports Media and Female Athletes in the UFC.

Q: Why did you decide to write this book?

Fighting Visibility began as a mild curiosity when I started watching the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) with a group of my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training partners in 2012. I had been aware of mixed martial arts (MMA) and the UFC for several years, but generally accepted the stereotype that the promotion peddled unbridled violence that served as entertainment by and for meatheads. I never thought that a sport that U.S. senator John McCain once called “human cockfighting” might be something I would watch let alone end up writing a book about. But my perception of the UFC began to change around the time that they decided to sign Ronda Rousey as their first female fighter. 

I skeptically watched the UFC market their first women’s MMA match in 2013 between Rousey and Liz Carmouche and fully expected the promotion to resort to sexualizing or trivializing female athletes with little fanfare because that’s how sports media often treats female athletes. To my surprise, the UFC began marketing its female athletes as empowered heroines breaking boundaries in their sport and seeking the American dream. Carmouche was an out lesbian and former marine who didn’t fit the heterosexy athlete pin-up that usually sells. Rousey soon became the UFC’s highest paid athlete and the face of the UFC for mainstream audiences. So, the book began with a simple question: how did a hypermasculine brand built upon a reputation of no-holds-barred fighting get in the business of women’s empowerment?

Q: Who were your biggest influences?

The theoretical heart of this book relies heavily on the work of feminist and critical/cultural scholars who critique what representations of diverse identities actually do to improve inequities in society. The scholars that I use in my work include Herman Gray, Sarah-Banet Weiser, Kristen Warner, and Ralina Joseph. Reading Gray’s article Subject(ed) to Recognition and Banet-Weiser’s books Authentic and Empowered propelled my thinking about representation early in the writing of this book. In much of media culture, we see a proliferation of images of diverse identities that get folded into neoliberal market logics that can be profitable for brands by circulating a great deal of cultural cache, which is what Gray and Banet-Weiser illuminate in particular. Kristen Warner’s short article Plastic Representation and Mary Beltrán’s Flow Journal piece on Meaningful Diversity are also ideas that I put in conversation in this book.

Jennifer McClearen is an assistant professor in the Department of Radio-Television-Film at the University of Texas at Austin.

Q: What is the most interesting discovery you made while researching and writing your book?

I had no intention of writing about labor when I first began Fighting Visibility. Yet, as I dug into the research, it became crystal clear that just because a sports media organization depicts female athletes as empowered symbols, doesn’t mean that they have agency in their work. In fact, they may be severely disenfranchised workers. UFC fighters are independent contractors, which means they don’t have year-round health insurance, retirement benefits, or guaranteed income. In a profession where you literally put your body on the line, this is highly problematic considering that most fighters are underpaid, and the UFC is worth billions. Fighters cannot break their contracts, but the UFC can at whim, which makes fighters extremely nervous about their job status. The book explores how the UFC capitalizes on diverse female athletes while exploiting the labor of those same athlete-workers. The most disenfranchised are often women of color, lesbians, or gender non-conforming women. 

Q: What myths do you hope your book will dispel or what do you hope your book will help readers unlearn?

I want to burst the mirage in progressive sports discourse that representation mattering is unilaterally beneficial to women athletes. I urge those already invested in women’s sports, such as scholars, activists, journalists, and fans, to critically examine what we assume are representational victories in the sporting arena. “Positive” or even “meaningful and accurate” representations of female athletes are co-opted by corporate interests that can actually disenfranchise women even as they become more visible than ever before. The UFC is at the forefront of monetizing female athletes in ways that emphasize their difference and make it sellable even though most women’s sports have lagged behind the trends that Gray, Banet-Weiser, and Warner describe in their work.

Q: What is the most important idea you hope readers will take away from your book?

As I write in the book, “Instead of asking ‘are women present in the UFC’ or ‘are these representations fair,’ I take a cue from Donna Haraway (1997) to ask ‘How is visibility possible? For whom, by whom, and of whom? What remains invisible, to whom, and why?’ (202).” The book argues that the UFC’s promotion of diverse female athletes actually serves as a seductive mirage of progress that enables the brand’s exploitative labor practices. We must constantly ask the question “who benefits” from these representations because visibility in itself doesn’t grant marginalized people as much power as we once might have assumed. The UFC’s labor model disproportionately taxes female athletes, particularly women of color and gender non-normative women, despite also promoting them at unprecedented levels. The book complicates a prevalent cultural notion that the increased visibility of female athletes will lead to greater equity in sports media and instead urges us to question who is harmed by neoliberal business practices.   

Q: What do you like to read/watch/or listen to for fun?

My favorite show right now is Warrior (Justin Lin and Jonathan Tropper), which is a martial arts period drama/action show about Chinese immigrants in San Francisco in the 1870s during the decline of the gold rush. The cast is predominantly of Asian descent and the creators do a fantastic job of creating rich and relatable characters. The women are even well-written, which is atypical of this genre. The show deftly depicts the historical anti-Chinese racism of the era while being certain to illustrate these connections with contemporary anti-Asian rhetoric. You can feel the weight of oppression on the characters, but they push back through martial arts in ways that feel very cathartic, in ways that Blaxploitation films were also able to do. On top of all this, the martial arts sequences are some of the most beautifully choreographed fight scenes I’ve seen in film or television. The show was inspired by the writings of Bruce Lee and his daughter, Shannon Lee, is one of the producers. I’m obviously a huge fan of Warrior and I hope the show gets picked up somewhere for a third season.

Make sure to also check out the recording of the book launch for Fighting Visibility, featuring the author in conversation with Julie Kedzie!


April’s free ebook has arrived! We’re giving away A NATION OF IMMIGRANTS RECONSIDERED: US SOCIETY IN AN AGE OF RESTRICTION, 1924-1965 edited by Maddalena Marinari, Madeline Y. Hsu, and Maria Cristina Garcia.

In A NATION OF IMMIGRANTS RECONSIDERED, leading scholars of immigration explore how the political and ideological struggles of the “age of restriction”–from 1924 to 1965–paved the way for the changes to come. The essays examine how geopolitics, civil rights, perceptions of America’s role as a humanitarian sanctuary, and economic priorities led government officials to facilitate the entrance of specific immigrant groups, thereby establishing the legal precedents for future policies.

Find out more about obtaining your free ebook here: https://mailchi.mp/61c8f50dffa3/april2021free_e-book

From the beginnings of silent films to the talkies we have now, women have played a pivotal role in the development of film whether it be behind the scenes or on the screen. In early theater, women challenged gender roles and sparked debates over women’s place in public life. To celebrate these pioneers for women’s history month, we’ve compiled a list of essential reading from our books and journals.

Starring Women: Celebrity, Patriarchy and American Theater 1790-1850

by Sara E. Lampert.

 Sara E. Lampert examines the lives, careers, and fame of overlooked figures from Europe and the United States whose work in melodrama, ballet, and other stage shows shocked and excited early U.S. audiences. These women lived and performed the tensions and contradictions of nineteenth-century gender roles, sparking debates about women’s place in public life. 

Just One of The Boys: Female-to-Male Cross-Dressing on The American Variety Stage

By Gillian M. Roger

Female-to-male crossdressing became all the rage in the variety shows of nineteenth-century America. Gillian M. Rodger uses the development of male impersonation from the early nineteenth century to the early twentieth century to illuminate the history of the variety show. Onstage, the actresses’ changing performance styles reflected gender construction in the working class and shifts in class affiliation by parts of the audiences. 

Journal of Film and Video

Winter 2019 Vol. 71 Number 4

 Four Women in the Haren (1965) by Halit Refi?: The Construction of “National Cinema” in Turkey, by Enis Dinç and Murat Asker. 

On July 27, 1966, Turkish film director Halit Refi angrily left a panel discussion on Turkish cinema. According to Refi, the panel had expanded from a discussion of Turkish cinema and its future and turned into a courtroom in which Turkish filmmakers were put on trial. Refi, was insulted at being framed as the enemies of society.

Movie Workers: The Women Who Made British Cinema

by Melanie Bell

After the advent of sound, women in the British film industry formed an essential corps of below-the-line workers, laboring in positions from animation artist to negative cutter to costume designer. Melanie Bell’s use of oral histories and trade union records presents a vivid counter-narrative to film history, one that focuses not only on women in a male-dominated business, but on the innumerable types of physical and emotional labor required to make a motion picture. 

Journal of Film and Video

Summer 2009 Vol. 66 Number 2

Feminist Auteurs: Reading Women’s Films (review), by Michael Brian Faucette

Geetha Ramananthan analyzes female directors and how they use their abilities as filmmakers to acknowledge or attack cultural factors such as race, class, gender, voyeurism, and the repression of female desire.

Josephine Baker and Katherine Dunham: Dances in Literature and Cinema

by Hannah Durkin

Josephine Baker and Katherine Dunham were the two most acclaimed and commercially successful African American dancers of their era and among the first black women to enjoy international screen careers. Hannah Durkin investigates Baker’s and Dunham’s films and writings to shed new light on their legacies as transatlantic artists and civil rights figures. 

Music and the Moving Image

Summer 2019 Vol. 12 Issue 2

Reclaiming Josephine Baker in the Filmic Ethnomusicology of Djibril Diop Mambéty, by Alexander Fisher

This paper proposes an ethnomusicological approach to Djibril Diop Mambéty’s films as a means of reading their diverse musical soundscapes. It demonstrates how this approach delineates a reclamation of Josephine Baker – an international figure who has been objectified for her race and gender.

Queer Timing: The Emergence of Lesbian Sexuality in Early Cinema

by Susan Potter

In Queer Timing, Susan Potter offers a counter-history that reorients accepted views of lesbian representation and spectatorship in early cinema. Potter sees the emergence of lesbian figures as only the most visible but belated outcome of multiple sexuality effects. As she pursues a sense of “timing,” Potter stages scenes of the erotic and intellectual encounters shared by historical spectators, on-screen figures, and present-day scholars. 

Journal of Film and Video

Winter 2009 Vol. 66 Number 4

Figures of Resistance: Essays in Feminist Theory (review), by Montré Aza Missouri

Figures of Resistance is a comprehensive collection of critical essays on feminist film theory and lesbian representations by pioneering feminist scholar Teresa de Laurentis. 

Pink Slipped: What Happened to Women in the Silent Film Industries?

by Jane M. Gaines

Women held more positions of power in the silent film era than at any other time in American motion picture history. For example, Gene Gauntier, the face of Kalem Films, also wrote the first script of Ben-Hur. Using individual careers as a point of departure, Jane M. Gaines charts how women first fell out of the limelight and then out of the film history itself. A more perplexing event cemented their obscurity: the failure of 1970s feminist historiography to rediscover them. 

Journal of Film and Video

Spring 2014 Vol. 66 Number 1

When Her Pictures Got Small: Gloria Swanson, Glamour, and Postwar Stardom, by Anne Helen Petersen

Gloria Swanson’s forays into television featured a facsimile of Swanson’s star image from the 1920s: classically glamorous, opulent, urban, and thoroughly unironic.

Movie Mavens: US Newspaper Women Take On the Movies, 1914-1923

Edited by Richard Abel

During the early era of cinema, moviegoers turned to women editors and writers for the latest on everyone’s favorite stars, films, and filmmakers. Drawn from newspapers of the time, Richard Abel returns these women to film history with an anthology of reviews, articles, and other works.

Music and the Moving Image

Spring 2018 Vol. 11 Issue 1

Emilie Bernstein: An Interview with Gillian Anderson, by Gillian Anderson

Emilie A. Bernstein orchestrated over twenty films with her father, Elmer Bernstein, beginning in 1991 and ending only upon his death in 2004. She also produced many of the soundtracks of those films. 

We are pleased to announce Hungry Translations: Relearning the World through Radical Vulnerability has been selected as the winner of 2021 International Studies Association’s Global Development Studies Book Award.

The award will be announced in the DGS newsletter as well as the virtual ISA Convention in April, at the GDS meeting. Richa Nagar will receive a certificate and $500 for this prize.

Congratulations Richa!

Welcome to the University of Illinois Press’s virtual exhibit for the 2021 African American Intellectual History Society! We hope you’ll step inside our virtual booth and browse new books, journal articles, author interviews, and more. Buy 3 books in order to get a free copy of the Fall 2021 issue of the Journal of Civil and Human Rights. Be sure to use promo code AAIHS21 for 50% off all of our African American Studies books March 19-21, 2021!

New Books in The New Black Studies Series, edited by Darlene Clark Hine and Dwight A. McBride

Black Internationalism Series, edited by Keisha N. Blain and Quito Swan

Featured Books on Black History and Culture

New Books in the Disability Histories Series, edited by Kim Nielsen and Michael Rembis

Featured Books on Black Musicians

Meet The Editor

We are pleased to announce that Dominique Moore has joined the University of Illinois Press as an acquisitions editor. She will acquire in the fields of Black studies, women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, and American ethnic studies. With years of freelance work as a copyeditor and proofreader and positions that include managing editor at Human Kinetics, Mellon University Press Diversity Fellow at the Ohio State University Press, and, most recently, assistant editor at the University of North Carolina Press, she brings a wealth of publishing experience to UIP. You can follow her on Twitter at @DomTheEditor.

Read the full announcement here.

Featured Journals

Journal of Civil and Human Rights (JCHR) is a peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary, academic journal dedicated to studying modern U.S.-based social justice movements and freedom struggles, including transnational ones, and their antecedents, influence, and legacies. 

Submissions to the Journal of Civil and Human Rights are accepted on an ongoing basis. They should be submitted electronically through the JCHR online manuscript submission system. 

JCHR practices a double-blind review process. Because submissions are evaluated anonymously, the author’s name should appear only on the title page. Electronic versions of the manuscript should be submitted as Microsoft Word email attachments to ezra@sonoma.edu.

For more information on the submission guidelines, please visit the following link:


Women, Gender, and Families of Color is a multidisciplinary journal that centers on the study of Black, Latina, Indigenous, and Asian American women, gender, and families. It is published in partnership with the Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at the University of Kansas.

Women, Gender, and Families of Color (WGFC) practices a blind-review and anonymous editorial process. Submissions are initially reviewed by the journal editor(s) to determine whether it meets the scope and quality required to be examined by our reviewers. 

The WGFC editors invite you to try out our electronic manuscript submission system. This secure, personalized resource will allow you to track your manuscript through each step of the acceptance and production process.

To begin, set up your personal account and upload your submission or log onto your existing account; both links are listed below. 



Browse Our Subject Catalog

Watch our Virtual Events

Watch the virtual book launch event for Mobilizing Black Germany.
Watch the Virtual Event for Laughing to Keep From Dying.
Watch the virtual event for From Slave Cabins to the White House.
Watch the virtual event for Madam C.J. Walker’s Gospel of Giving.

More From Our Authors

Welcome to the University of Illinois Press’s virtual exhibit for the 2021 Appalachian Studies Association conference! We hope you’ll step inside our virtual booth and browse new books, journal articles, author interviews, and more. Be sure to use promo code APPSA21 for 50% off all of our Appalachian studies books March 11-14, 2021!

Featured Books in Appalachian Studies

Featured Journal

The Journal of Appalachian Studies is a refereed, multidisciplinary journal published on behalf of the Appalachian Studies Association (ASA) with support from Marshall University. The journal publishes articles of interest to scholars pertaining to Appalachia, especially but not limited to culture, ethnographic research, health, literature, land use, and indigenous groups.

Featured Books in Bluegrass and Country

American Folklore Society Virtual Exhibit

Podcast with former editor of the Journal of Appalachian Studies, Dr. Shaunna Scott, and Acquisitions Editor, Alison Syring

Browse Our Appalachian Studies Catalog

University of Illinois Press on Spotify

Playlist for Unlikely Angel: The Songs of Dolly Parton

Playlist for Hillbilly Maidens, Okies, and Cowgirls: Women’s Country Music, 1930 -1960

More From Our Authors

Welcome to the University of Illinois Press’s virtual exhibit for the 2021 Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference! We hope you’ll step inside our virtual booth and browse new books, journal articles, author interviews, and more. If you buy 3 books, you’ll get a free copy of the Journal of Film and Video, Fall 2021 issue! Be sure to use promo code SCMS21 for 50% off all of our cinema and media studies books March 5-through March 21, 2021!

Featured Books

Register here: https://bit.ly/Fightingvisibility

Featured Journals

The Journal of Film and Video, an internationally respected forum, focuses on scholarship in the fields of film and video production, history, theory, criticism, and aesthetics. The Journal of Film and Video is the official publication of the University Film & Video Association.

Submissions to the Journal of Film and Video (JFV) are accepted on an ongoing basis. They should be submitted electronically through the JFV online manuscript submission system. This secure, personalized resource will allow you to track your manuscript through each step of the
review and acceptance process.

The Journal of Film and Video focuses on scholarship in the fields of film and video production, history, theory, criticism, and aesthetics. It is receptive to articles of 12-35 typewritten pages about film and related media, problems of education in these fields, and the function of film and video in society. For more information on the submission guidelines, please visit the following link:

Music and the Moving Image explores the relationship between music and the entire universe of moving images (film, television, music videos, computer games, performance art, and web-based media) through articles, reviews and interviews.

Submissions to Music and the Moving Image are accepted on an ongoing basis, electronically as email attachments, or CD-ROMs. Submissions are reviewed anonymously; thus, author name and contact information should appear in a separate file and not in the manuscript itself.

The journal will be pleased to consider submissions consisting of edited interviews, provided such submissions are properly documented and include contextual introductions. Authors are encouraged to approach the editors about interviews before conducting them. For more information on submission guidelines, visit the following link:

Submit files to:
Prof. Ronald H. Sadoff
New York University
Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions
E-mail: ron.sadoff@nyu.edu

Free E-book Giveaway

Sign up here to receive a free ebook of In Search of Belonging by Jillian M. Báez: https://mailchi.mp/09208df1c6fe/mar-21-free-ebook

Let’s Talk

Daniel Nasset is the new editor-in-chief at the University of Illinois Press. Danny came to Illinois as an assistant acquisitions editor in 2009, becoming an acquisitions editor in 2011 and a senior acquisitions editor in 2016. Danny has distinguished himself with his acquisitions in history, sports, American studies, communication and media studies!

Click here to read an interview with him.

Browse our Cinema and Media Studies Catalog

More From Our Authors

In this volume of Bach Perspectives, Laura Buch edits essays that reconsider parody, transcription, and adaptation in the sphere of the composer J.S. Bach. In Bach Perspectives, Volume 13: Bach Reworked the contributors delve into works of eighteenth-century composers from Bach himself to C. P. E. Bach and J. C. F. Fischer. But they also cast a wider net, investigating early twentieth century reworkings; most notably in this excerpt from Ellen Exner’s essay: keyboardist Bernie Worrell and Parliament-Funkadelic. 

In his 2014 memoir, Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard on You?, George Clinton, infamous leader of a constellation of bands referred to collectively as Parliament-Funkadelic—or more commonly, P-Funk—specifi- cally identified the contrapuntal style of J. S. Bach as a particular stimulus behind the composition of the track “Nappy Dugout” from Funkadelic’s 1973 album, Cosmic Slop:

There’s “Nappy Dugout,” a vicious, low-groove that Boogie brought us wedded to a lyrical idea I got from something a girl said to me about pussy.1 Boogie’s track was so funky that I didn’t have to add too many words to it; my job was to make my point and get out of the way. The final step was to let Bernie take his shot at it, add his keyboard parts around the bass. Bernie, like Sly, liked Bach quite a bit, and both of them used his theory of counterpoint, which is about setting melodies up on top of one another to create something larger. Bernie’s understanding was a bit more classical than Sly’s, but both had a way of making different parts that wove in and out of each other. 2

The Boogie whom Clinton refers to is Cordell “Boogie” Mosson, P-Funk’s bass- ist. Sly is Sylvester Stone of the band Sly and the Family Stone, and Bernie is Dr. George Bernard Worrell Jr. (1944–2016), the brilliant keyboardist and music director of Parliament-Funkadelic.

According to Rickey Vincent, prize-winning author of Funk: The Music, the People, and the Rhythm of the One, “P-Funk remains the strongest influence on black music since their popular zenith in 1978.”3 The group is so significant a force that Prince himself inducted it into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. P-Funk’s dominance is plainly evident in how often its tracks are sampled by other musicians: Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, De la Soul, and many other rap, R&B, and hip-hop artists have used P-Funk’s music as the basis for their own new compositions. Legal issues aside, sampling is an act of homage to revered artists, and P-Funk ranks among the most sampled bands of all time.4

If Bach is somehow in P-Funk’s musical DNA, as Clinton claims, and P-Funk’s sound has been foundational for a new generation of popular music artists, then Bach’s musical influence informs canonic masterworks not just of the concert hall but also of funk, hip-hop, and rap. Thus, Clinton’s specific reference to Bach’s influence on Worrell, P-Funk’s main musical engine, cannot pass unexamined.5 This group, once described “as a psychedelic rock band with diapers, dashikis and face paint,”6 is hardly the obvious place to look for the influence of the Leipzig Thomaskantor. Engaged listening across the band’s discography makes it clear, though, that there is ample musically intelligent life on board the iconic P-Funk Mothership, and it emanates most powerfully from Worrell’s keyboard section.7 Research into his extensive musical background reveals that there is most definitely Bach in your funk, and a lot more besides. This essay is an exploration of P-Funk’s incalculable (and unpaid)8 musical debt to Worrell, by way of what Clinton called “Bach.” As such, it joins an ever-expanding discussion of how Bach’s music transcends generic and cultural boundaries. Indeed, similar things could be (and have been) said of P-Funk.9

Bernie Worrell’s path to P-Funk was in no way predictable. The “Wizard of Woo,” as he became known, was a classically trained keyboard virtuoso and former child prodigy.10 He was born in Long Branch, New Jersey, and raised in nearby Plainfield, where (to his mother’s great dismay) he first met George Clinton, who ran the local barbershop.11 Worrell’s extraordinary musical talent was evident and storied early on:

in Clinton’s words, “he was a local Mozart who wrote his first symphony before he was in junior high. He could do anything from Ray Charles to classical music.”12

Worrell’s mother, Cora, a domestic worker and church musician, fostered it in every way that she could, finding her gifted son excellent private teachers and sending him to piano lessons at the Juilliard School in New York before he left for college.

According to Worrell’s successful application to the New England Conservatory of Music in 1962, it had been his dream “to do piano, orchestra, and concert work,” with the hope of gaining “a graduate degree to teach music on a college level.”13 The universe had other plans for him, though, and that youthful goal remained unrealized. He was seven and a half semesters into his classical piano performance degree when he was forced suddenly to drop out of school due to the unexpected death of his father. Almost immediately, Worrell became musical director for the soul singer Maxine Brown for a little over two years before answering Clinton’s call from the Apollo Theater inviting him to join P-Funk. His first album with the group was its second: Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow (1970).14 After leaving Clinton’s bands, Worrell worked with such artists as Keith Richards, the Talking Heads, the Pretenders, and actress Meryl Streep, who said of him, “Kindness comes off that man like stardust.”15 The former concert pianist was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame twice and is listed there, along with Parliament-Funkadelic, as one of contemporary rap and R&B’s “most sampled musicians ever.”16 In May 2019, he, along with P-Funk, received a lifetime achievement Grammy Award (posthumously).

Worrell’s virtuosic instrumental commentary, encyclopedic command of musical styles, contagious bass lines, and the extraterrestrial soundscape he pioneered with his Moog synthesizers not only created P-Funk’s signature sound but functioned as the glue holding the multifarious ensemble together. The infusion of classical idioms into P-Funk’s eclectic blend, although seldom described, was among Worrell’s essential contributions. His accumulated musical experience and enormous professional success eventually made him the recipient of that once-desired professor’s degree, an honorary doctorate, from his alma mater, the New England Conservatory (NEC). Sadly, the gesture came just weeks before his death due to cancer in June 2016. Rigorous formal training and innate musical curiosity meant that Worrell was inti- mately familiar with the canonical works of the Western art tradition and the principles of formal composition. He brought his deep knowledge and extraordinary skills to Parliament-Funkadelic, a group of bands whose style range is so eclectic that it spawned its own adjective: P-Funk.

P-Funk is often described as a mixture of pop, rock, Motown, rhythm and blues, funk, and soul, but a focus on Worrell’s contributions demonstrates that J. S. Bach and other traditionally European concert hall idioms belong in that list as well. 17The singular union of these many styles into one is what creates the P-Funk and makes it like no other. Worrell rendered the audacious multiplicity coherent.

Clinton’s initially arresting claim that the music of “Nappy Dugout” was somehow inspired by Bachian compositional techniques suddenly becomes utterly plausible in light of Worrell’s background. The musical style of “Nappy Dugout” nevertheless remains an obstacle to corroborating Clinton’s recollection. The song does indeed feature the “vicious low groove” and sparse vocals he described in his autobiography, but the compositional logic is only contrapuntal in the most generous of senses. In fact, the song is explicit in every way except Bachian.18 The musical texture of the song is not generated by counterpoint. Instead, it is an example of polyphony: the track is composed of multiple, independent, layered musical lines. Thus, it certainly does contain “melodies up on top of one another,” as Clinton claimed, but there is no calculated, note-against-note counterpoint in the manner descriptive of Bach’s art.

If the technical details do not bear out Clinton’s assertion that Bachian counterpoint informed “Nappy Dugout,” we can still be reasonably sure that Worrell, a conserva- tory-trained concert pianist, encountered Bach’s music.19 We can therefore impugn the details of Clinton’s recollection in this case while continuing the search for the claim’s basis: there is some truth behind it even if the facts got muddled in the retell- ing. There are, in fact, multiple songs within P-Funk’s discography that betray sig- nificant “classical” influences—even specifically baroque ones. For example,

“O Lord, Why Lord/Prayer,” an early track by a subsection of P-Funk known as Parliament,20 features Worrell on harpsichord. He improvises over Pachelbel’s famous Canon in D to accompany lyrics that are a passionate meditation on the scourge of racism.21

Canon is a particularly poignant compositional choice for underpinning these lyrics because its chief characteristic is perpetual, relentless return despite appearances of forward progress. In addition, few pieces of music could be more suggestive of cultural privilege and European tradition than Pachelbel’s Canon, so the conflict of topics contained in this song—the desperate frustration of a senselessly oppressed people paired with a musical style traditionally associated with the oppressors—is profoundly, devastatingly moving. Because the track is a cover, Worrell was not responsible for the original concept, but he was responsible for Parliament’s arrangement of it22 as well as

the informed decision to use harpsichord, a keyboard instrument appropriate to the baroque era but seldom encountered in funk. Worrell’s choices here clearly reveal not only historical knowledge but also a multifaceted progressive vision expressed through his musical ecumenicism.

Multiple, separate, identifiable musical styles emerge from Worrell’s keyboard com- mentary on arguably every P-Funk track. They were certainly informed by the reper- tory he studied at the conservatory but also beyond. In one of the band’s signature songs, “P-Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up),” Worrell references at least three different styles in extremely close proximity: funk, “classical,” and blues.23 The greatest kalei- doscopic mixture of musics occurs toward the end of the track (approximately seven minutes in), where Worrell participates in the funk groove, adds fistfuls of virtuosic chords right out of the concert hall repertory, and then switches to a blues piano texture, all within the space of less than a minute. What triggered his musical imagination to go in these directions is probably unknowable. Whatever the explanation, Worrell’s characteristic mixture works and represents in microcosm the eclectic blend that is specifically P-Funk. Even Broadway musicals make their appearance. For example,

Worrell injects a direct, though brief, quotation from Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm” into “Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)” (2:43–2:44).24 Worrell answers the vocalists’ refrain, “there’s a whole lotta rhythm going round,” purely instrumentally with Gershwin’s melodic tag to the words, “Who could ask for anything more?”

The topical connection between foreground and background is, in this case, obvious.

The creative impulse behind Worrell’s concert-hall stylings in “Aquaboogie” are much more difficult to pin down.25 His additions in this case owe everything to the classical tradition.26 The liquid subject of “Aquaboogie” might explain the journey of Worrell’s improvisatory imagination. After all, there is piano repertory associated with underwater topics (such as Ravel’s Ondine or Debussy’s Sunken Cathedral). Perhaps it was works like these that inspired his decision to add to the already busy texture big,

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