American Studies
American Studies

Christine Capetola

Doctoral Student
Christine Capetola



queer theory, black studies, gender studies, sound studies, affect theory, performance studies, 80's pop and r&b, contemporary synthpop


Christine grew up in Jersey City, NJ but started avidly attending concerts in New York City as soon as she was a teenager.  She studied Gender, Culture & Society at the University of Pennsylvania and has a M.A. in Performance Studies from New York University.  Her research and desire to teach are motivated by a yearning to understand—and be part of conversations about—the points where culture (especially popular music) and politics overlap.

Christine’s dissertation research draws connections between black pop stars who were early adopters of digital synthesizer and drum machine technology in the mid-1980s (such as Janet Jackson) and some of their contemporaries (such as Blood Orange), asserting that the vibrations from these 1980s pop songs resonate in not only aesthetic but also political ways in our contemporary moment.  She posits that during a new era of hypervisibility and ultra conservative politics in the 1980s, the affective force of the sounds and vibrations from said pop stars' music worked as reroutings and interruptions of stereotypes about blackness and black people, particularly along the lines of gender and sexuality.  Inspired by contemporary synthpop artists who take sonic and visual cues from these black pop stars of yesteryear, Christine seeks to connect the music and the politics of both the 1980s and today.

As a Mellon Engaged Scholar Initiative Fellow, Christine will be creating a repository for musical performances and political texts from the 1980s, inviting visitors to think critically about the contemporary American political context through a deep engagement with the Reagan years.  By situating performance as a starting point, Christine seeks to open up the study of the sights, sounds, and feelings of historical moments to anyone who has access to a computer.

Christine writes about contemporary pop music on her blog, Sound and Queery, where she thinks expansively about sound, music, and genre.  She additionally pens critically aware album reviews for feminist outlet Bitch Media.


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