Nancy W Hanrahan

Nancy W Hanrahan

Nancy W Hanrahan

Associate Professor

Sociology: critical theory, cultural sociology, feminist theory, music and the arts

My research specializations are in cultural sociology, critical theory, feminist theory and sociology of music.  I received my Ph.D. in 1994 from the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science of the New School for Social Research.  Before embarking on an academic career, I spent ten years in the music business, as a radio announcer in Boston, and as program director of New Jazz at the Public, Joseph Papp’s Public Theater in New York City.  I served as Director of Women and Gender Studies at Mason from 2002-2009, and spent the spring, 2011 semester as a Fulbright Scholar in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as a specialist in feminist theory. 

My current research project is tentatively titled, "Women's Work", Education Strikes and the Crisis of Care.  It investigates the recent teachers' strikes as a form of women's organizing and gender politics.  Most often presented in the media as a labor issue, the strikers themselves have been drawing on a vocabulary of social reproduction politics, of care for community and the future, that resonates with women's organizing in many other parts of the world.  I am collaborating with Dr. Sarah Amsler of the University of Nottingham to pursue a comparative account of education strikes in the US and UK since the financial collapse of 2008.  We have completed preliminary fieldwork interviewing women teachers and strike leaders in Arizona, West Virginia, and several locations in England.  

I teach undergraduate courses in gender and in classical and contemporary sociological theory, and graduate courses in contemporary theory, critical theory, feminist theory and the sociology of culture.  In fall, 2019, I taught a new course on Contemporary Women's Movements. 

My two previous books are  Difference in Time: A Critical Theory of Culture (Praeger, 2000) and The Blackwell Companion to the Sociology of Culture (co-editor) (Blackwell Publishers, 2004).

Selected Publications

“Digitized Music and the Aesthetic Experience of Difference” in David Arditi and Jennifer Miller, eds., The Dialectic of Digital Culture (Lexington Books: Lanham, New York and London) 2019.

"Critique and Possibility in Cultural Sociology" (with Sarah S. Amsler) in John R. Hall, Laura Grindstaff, and Ming-cheng Lo, eds., Routledge Handbook of Cultural Sociology second edition (Routledge: New York and London) 2018.

"Relearning Liberation: Critical Methodologies for the General Crisis" (with Sarah S. Amsler), Berlin Journal of Critical Theory, Volume 2, No 4, October, 2018.  

"Hearing the Contradictions: Aesthetic Experience, Music and Digitization", Cultural Sociology, Volume 12, No 3, September, 2018.

“La Découverte Musicale en Régime Numérique: Personnalisation, Popularité et Possibilité Esthétique,” In Philippe Le Guern, ed.  Ou Va La Musique? Numerimorphose et Nouvelles Experiences d’Ecoute. (Presses des Mines: Paris) 2016.

Big Data, Little Music”, Public Seminar, March, 24, 2014.

“’If the People Like it, it Must be Good’: Criticism, Democracy and the Culture of Consensus” Cultural Sociology, Volume 7 No 1, March 2013.

Music, or the Triumph of Technics?”  January 19, 2012.


Dissertations Supervised

Robert P. Fenton, Guayaquil Antiguo and Cacao Capitalism during the Long 19th Century: On the Peripheral Origins of Planetary Urbanization (2019)

Nicole B. Hindert, The Jeito of the Brazilian Mulata: Race, Identity, and Distinction in a Racial Democracy (2016)