Popular Music Lecture: Debt and Redemption in the Blues—The Call for Justice (Julia Simon, UC Davis)


Oct. 26, 2022, 5:30pm to 7:30pm

Campus Location

Office/Remote Location

Julia Simon


The Arnold Shaw Popular Music Research Center welcomes Julia Simon (professor of French and Italian, UC Davis) as she presents a lecture on issues of race, appropriation, and authenticity in the blues.

About the lecture:
From the historical perspective of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, the blues reflect the complexity of social and economic forms of bondage created through debt. Underneath the lyrical representations of failed romantic and sexual relations in the blues lies an evocation of the tangled web of betrayal, deceit, and entrapment constraining physical, social, economic, and political movement of African Americans. “Debt and Redemption: The Call for Justice in the Blues” argues that blues music calls out injustices in their complex socio-economic forms and proclaims a faith in a profoundly secular and moral justice to come.

About the presenter:

Julia Simon specializes in 18th-century French literature and culture with special emphasis on the relevance of Enlightenment social, political, moral, and aesthetic theory today. She also works in music, specifically on the cultural history of the blues. She is the author of “Time in the Blues”; “Rousseau Among the Moderns: Music, Aesthetics, Politics”; “Beyond Contractual Morality: Ethics, Law, and Literature in Eighteenth-Century France”; and “Mass Enlightenment: Critical Studies in Rousseau and Diderot.” Her current book project examines calls for justice in the blues through a historical analysis of economic relations and, specifically, the imposition of debt on African Americans.



Admission Information

Open to the public

Contact Information

School of Music
Jonathan Lee

More info on this event


Open to All