North Texas Daily

UNT history department holds inaugural faculty lecture for new Body, Place, and Identity concentration

UNT history department holds inaugural faculty lecture for new Body, Place, and Identity concentration

UNT history department holds inaugural faculty lecture for new Body, Place, and Identity concentration
November 04
21:10 2018

About 200 people attended the inaugural faculty lecture for the history department’s new Body, Place, and Identity doctoral concentration on Friday in the Business Leadership Building.

The lecture, No Escape From Reality: The Postcolonial Glam of Freddie Mercury, was given by history professor Nancy Stockdale. Stockdale went into depth about how the Queen singer’s glam was “an indictment of post-colonial Britain.” The lecture comes on the same day as the debut of the Freddie Mercury biopic film “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

“I came for extra credit and I wanted to enlighten myself about this topic,” communications sophomore Christopher Risby said.

Risby said he was interested in the lecture and was particularly fascinated by the fashion of 1970s glam rock stars. He said he respected how Queen and Freddie Mercury ignored the naysayers.

“The way they dressed, they didn’t care about society’s opinions and views about them,” Risby said. “[It was] very strong of them to do that, to not care what people think about them.”

The new concentration allows doctoral students to focus on particular themes such as food culture, sexuality or identities, rather than studying a specific time or place.

Computer science freshman Sally Ben said she previously only knew about Queen’s most popular songs and was unaware of Freddie Mercury’s interesting background.

“I didn’t know a lot about Freddie Mercury,” Ben said. “You don’t know the background of something until you actually go down the rabbit hole.”

Stockdale’s main argument was that Freddie Mercury’s glam expression is an “elaborately constructed image inspired by his position on colonial, turned post-colonial British empire.” Stockdale said because Freddie Mercury immigrated to England during the country’s decolonization,  he used a variety of imperial and English tropes to craft his British rockstar image.

Though Freddie Mercury critiqued the “essence of Englishness,” he also celebrated it. This is evident by the name of his band, Queen. Although he was surrounded by English culture, his experience being an “exotic other” shaped him and his music, Stockdale said.

During the lecture, Stockdale analyzed a few clear examples of this that are found in Queen’s glam era music. She used photos and video clips to dive deep into his past and into his stardom.

An expert on Middle Eastern history, Stockdale sees the link between her academic research and favorite music.

“I had a great amount of fun because I care about his work as a fan,” Stockdale said. “As a historian, he’s a very interesting person to research. So I get to hit all of my interests by researching him.”

Stockdale currently teaches Islamic and Modern Middle Eastern History as well as Imperialism in the Modern Middle East.  She’s working on an additional book about representation of the Middle East in western entertainment. Next semester she will teach a course called Food, Sex and Drugs in Middle Eastern History.

“He’s a person who has a very transnational historical experience and identity,” Stockdale said of Mercury. “Also, people embody his music by taking it in through their senses.”

Stockdale has been a lifelong fan of Freddie Mercury. She’s been thinking about this topic for 20 years now, and started writing about it in 2013. Stockdale is currently writing a book about additional cultural aspects of Freddie Mercury’s life.

“I always enjoy having the opportunity to talk about Freddie Mercury in academic settings,” Stockdale said.

Featured Image: History professor Nancy L. Stockdale at the inaugural faculty lecture for the Body, Place, and Identity graduate concentration. Jordan Collard

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Jasmine Robinson

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