‘Booklovers’? Popular Music and the Literary Canon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter takes as a starting point Theodor Adorno’s distinction between ‘popular’ and ‘serious’ music, put forward in his 1941 essay ‘On Popular Music’; it argues that popular music’s rich network of intertextual links undermines this binary distinction. The chapter begins by offering a brief survey of dialogue between literature and popular music in Western culture, considering how recent critical theory has engaged with the interplay between these two aesthetic phenomena. It then examines ways in which literature has drawn on popular music, arguing that recent approaches to popular song-writing and performance poetry have blurred the boundaries between the two art forms. The final section considers the way in which literature has served as a principal thematic driving force for the songs of The Cure and Iron Maiden, with implications for the way in which we understand popular music’s status within intertextual networks, and thus its ‘seriousness’ in Adornian terms.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Companion to Music and Modern Literature
Number of pages23
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 31 Dec 2018


  • Popular Music
  • Music
  • music and literature
  • Modern Literature
  • Poetry


Dive into the research topics of '‘Booklovers’? Popular Music and the Literary Canon'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this