Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Articles [NAJP]

Advertisement for My Students (OK, Also Myself)

This is mostly to let the NAJP community know that the current issue of Jason Gross's long-running online music magazine Perfect Sound Forever was guest-edited by myself and consists entirely of papers I've gotten from my students at Princeton and especially NYU over the past three years. I wrote an intro that explains how the issue came about that you can click on if you're interested. But for NAJP-ers I should emphasize that perhaps half of these students have much interest in a writing career--the four from Princeton, who took a seminar entitled "Cultural Journalism" with me last fall, and maybe two or three of my NYU students, all of whom (except one special enrollee) are musos preparing for careers in the music business in the Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music. Moreover, most of the NYU students were/are only sophomores for whom my Artists and Audiences class is a requirement that's supposed to teach them to both read and write about popular music. I've found that these students, as musos, describe music with a fluency few rock critics achieve even in this period, when most who write about music also dabble (or much more) in performance. Some come in with a measure of stylistic ease, but most have to be shown how, which I regard as being as much about the readings I assign as the detailed editing I do on the two papers (of 250 and 750 words) that precede these, all but one of which were 2500-word final papers. Interesting how many pick it up when given the chance.

As far as I'm concerned, most of these papers are at least as interesting as almost anything I read in the professional press--not for the most part absolutely top quality, but well above the churned-out norm. And if you'll glance at the mag's archive, you'll find more of equal quality. Nobody in PSF is paid a penny, including Jason Gross, an NAJP member who would qualify as an arts journalist even if he didn't freelance for actual cash money on occasion--and who has a day job with the Audobon Society.

Articles, June 1, 2008

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