NANO: New American Notes Online

Due Date: 09-25-2020

“This Is What Makes Us Girls,” the last track of Lana Del Rey’s 2011 debut album Born to Die, offers a theory about the nature of coming-of-age femininity. The song imagines teenage sisterhood as a torsion between loyalty and betrayal, a modality of friendship in which an ethos of “putting love first” undoes the bonds of support that sustain young women through the trials of youth. Del Rey’s flippant yet comforting refrain, “Don’t cry about it. It’s all gonna happen,” might be perceived as a betrayal of more sanguine discourses on “girl power” and feminist sisterhood. Yet Del Rey’s provocation also opens up space for affirming feminine (and perhaps feminist) agency while keeping peer-to-peer conflict and romantic passion closer to the center of the definition of “real life” for girls.

Taking its cue from Del Rey’s bad girls pop anthem, this special issue of NANO: New American Notes Online will explore pop artists who, like Del Rey, theorize gender, deploying and redeploying the normative and transformative functions of genre. What can the genre of pop music—and the genres within pop music—teach us about genres of femininity and masculinity in our current moment?

This issue welcomes multimodal essays of up to 4,000 words (excluding works cited) exploring topics relating to gender, genre, and pop music, including the following:

  • affect studies and pop music
  • the politics of desire
  • influence, citation, affiliation, intertextuality
  • race and racialization
  • transgender studies
  • masculinity studies
  • queer theory
  • cultural appropriation
  • disavowals of and reinvestments in feminism
  • new media / social media
  • disability studies / crip theory
  • #MeToo and the recording industry
  • class and classism
  • performers as commodities
  • postcolonial and decolonial theory
  • convention and originality
  • iterability, citationality, performativity
  • disidentifications

Submissions are due by 25 September 2020. For more information, visit Please direct questions to Erin Kappeler ( and Ryan Tracy (