Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Literature of Rock - Hoffmann & Cooper


The researcher today has the internet and databases at hand to search for articles and information on all subjects.  For the subject of rock music, the library subscribes to three very good databases.

The Music Index - article citations and full text for more recent coverage

Rock's Backpages - full text of articles by well-known rock critics and scholars, not thorough coverage

JStor - full text of articles in selective scholarly periodicals

Between these three resources and a good web search, a large amount of information can be found.  But at times the amount of information is too great and it becomes difficult to choose and evaluate sources.  This is where a good print bibliography can help out.

The Literature of Rock, compiled first by Frank Hoffmann and later together with B. Lee Cooper (with assistance from Lee Ann Cooper), was published between 1981 and 1995.  The three volumes cover articles written respectively between 1954 to 1978, 1979 to 1983, and 1984 to 1990.  The final volume also includes "additional material for the period 1954-1983".

Each volume has an index that lists the artists, bands, films, and subjects covered.  This book is organized in a unique way that progresses chronologically and stylistically through the genre, thus grouping together music scenes and related artists.

Where the book shines is in the annotations that accompany each citation.  This can give the researcher a sense of how useful an article will be for one's purposes.  In addition to indexing articles, the Literature of Rock also includes book chapters and encyclopedia entries.  The section for "Protest Songs" lists articles from mainstream publications like Life, Public Opinion Quarterly and Saturday Review, as well as sections from books.  Because each volume adds new entries it can be necessary to consult each of the three volumes.

Anyone researching rock music, both its genres and artists, will discover valuable information.  Of course, a bibliography like this is only the first step.  Researchers then need to search the Library's online catalog to see whether the Library has the publications (in print or online).  Sometimes knowing the citation information makes the article more easily found through an online search engine.  When we do not own a book or magazine title, we can usually obtain it for our patrons through Inter-Library Loan.


The Literature of Rock by Frank Hoffmann (and B. Lee Cooper) (Scarecrow Press, 1981-1995).