James Barker (he/they) is a PhD candidate in Music and Media at Newcastle University, UK. His PhD research explores the potential of queer reading as a strategy to assert LGBTQIA+ belonging in country music, using Dolly Parton as a case study. More broadly, his work explores the ways artists, audiences and songs navigate, shape and challenge ideas of musical genre and authenticity, using a queer theoretical framework. In addition to his academic research, he has worked as a journalist focusing on championing LGBTQIA+ voices in country, Americana and roots music.

James has published a journal article on Dolly Parton’s mythologised persona and queer collective life writing in Persona Studies and (with Richard Elliott and Gareth Longstaff) a book chapter on Taylor Swift and the commodification of queer affective intensities in the edited collection, Disrupted Knowledge: Scholarship in a Time of Change (Brill).

James has presented at the International Country Music Conference, the International Association of Popular Music Studies Conference, the British Association of American Studies Conference, the Johnny Cash Heritage Festival, and (Taylor)SwiftCon 2021.


Past Short Courses

Queering Country Music: Conceptualising LGBTQIA+ Voices in a Contested Genre
Thursday 25th April 2024
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
(London Time)

Queering Country Music: Conceptualising LGBTQIA+ Voices in a Contested Genre

James Barker

This course considers the way songs by LGBTQIA+ artists navigate country music aesthetics and definitions of genre, looking at the voice as a medium for articulating and reworking ideas of authenticity and genre identity. The presentation explores particular songs in depth...