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Ellen Willis: the book and the conference

March 21st, 2011 · 1 Comment

As you may know, I’ve been toiling for years on an anthology of my mother Ellen Willis’s music criticism. My mom was a radical feminist icon, but right around the time she was founding Redstockings and organizing consciousness-raising sessions, she was busy being the first pop music critic for the New Yorker. At a time when CREEM and Rolling Stone were low-budget underground zines, my mom was writing about rock n roll for a readership of half a million.

In other words: She not only kicked open the door for women in the field–she helped invent it.

I’m very excited to announce that the collection, Out of the Vinyl Deeps: Ellen Willis on Rock Music, will finally be out May 1. And to celebrate it, Daphne Carr, Evie Nagy and I have organized a conference at NYU celebrating her work.

Check out the full schedule after the jump. Everyone from Alex Ross to Ann Powers to Bob Christgau to Kathleen Hanna will be there. Hope to see you there!

Opening remarks and thanks: Conference organizers

**Robert Christgau, reading of one piece + remembrance**

Willis’s Work in Context: Culture, Politics, History (10 a.m. -11:30 a.m.)
A discussion of Willis’s writing in terms of social history, the culture wars, feminism, and the left.


Stanley Aronowitz (CUNY Graduate Center)
Daphne Brooks (Princeton University)
Michael Bérubé (Penn State University)
Scott McLemee (National Book Critics Circle Board of Directors)

Moderated by Susie Linfield, New York University

** Karen Durbin, reading of one piece + remembrance**

**Donna Gaines, reading of one piece + remembrance**

Ellen Willis and the Cultural Conversation (12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.)
Ellen Willis’s work enabled and inspired a wide range of cultural responses, within as well as among the spheres of academia, journalism, music, and activism. This panel will hear from figures from these fields to explore Ellen as a catalyst for a new kind of cultural conversation, considering how—as a writer, teacher, and role model—she helped to make possible what it is that they do.


Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill, Le Tigre)
Ann Powers (NPR Music)
Joe Levy (Maxim)
Joan Morgan (New York University)

Moderated by Devon Powers, Drexel University

Lunch 1:30-2:30

** Richard Goldstein, reading of one piece + remembrance **

** Georgia Christgau, reading of one piece + remembrance **

The legacy of Willis in the 21st century (2:30 p.m. -4:00 p.m.)
A discussion on music writing and the journalism industry, then and now.


Evie Nagy (Billboard Pro)
Nona Willis Aronowitz (NPR, author, Girldrive)
Rob Sheffield (Rolling Stone)
Alex Ross (New Yorker)
Irin Carmon (

Moderated by Daphne Carr, Columbia University

Reception (4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.)


Tags: Generations

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Kerry // Mar 28, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    Congrats Nona! I’m a huge fan of most of those people…it’s a great lineup. Your mother was a tremendous influence on me and so many others I know.

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