During World War II, American media consistently portrayed the typical young female Frank Sinatra fan as a disinterested citizen who failed to devote adequate attention to the war effort and harbored an inappropriate obsession with the pop idol. What contemporaneous critics and current scholars have generally not acknowledged, however, was how Sinatra fandom allowed thousands of American teenage girls to navigate their stressful, confusing, and often contradictory wartime realities with purpose and enthusiasm. This article examines wartime Frank Sinatra fan clubs through the lens of fan club newsletters and correspondences, which were authored, printed, and distributed entirely by the primarily teenage female members of these clubs. In contrast to professionally published press coverage and criticism, these fan-made texts provide unprecedented insight into how this specific fan community used their adoration of Sinatra as a base to explore international relationships, develop professional skills, and engage in personal expression amidst heightened feelings of nationalism and conflicting expectations regarding American gender roles.
Teenage Agency and Popular Music Reception in World War II-Era Frank Sinatra Fan Clubs
Katie Beisel Hollenbach holds a Ph.D. in musicology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research focuses on popular music and fandom during World War II, technological mediation, and audience reception. Katie has presented her research at the annual conferences of the Society for American Music and the Society for Cinema and Media Studies. She is currently the assistant director for admissions and community outreach at the University of Washington School of Music.
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Katie Beisel Hollenbach; Teenage Agency and Popular Music Reception in World War II-Era Frank Sinatra Fan Clubs. Journal of Popular Music Studies 1 December 2019; 31 (4): 142–160. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jpms.2019.31.4.142
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