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Hamessley Discusses Dolly Parton’s Music


Lydia Hamessley.
Lydia Hamessley.

Professor of Music Lydia Hamessley recently presented a paper at the Feminist Theory and Music Conference at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Her presentation, “‘Coat of Many Colors’: Dolly Parton’s Memory Palace of Healing,” considered the different ways Parton shaped a childhood memory about bullying into song, a children’s book, and a film.

Hamessley said that “Coat of Many Colors” is now used in schools to address bullying. A replica of the coat is in the Chasing Rainbows Museum at Dollywood, displayed alongside a photographic mural of children who are laughing at the viewer. The song’s lyrics are featured prominently to place the coat and the photograph in the context of childhood bullying.

Earlier this spring, Hamessley was the keynote speaker at a meeting of the New York State-St. Lawrence chapter of the American Musicological Society. The conference took place at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. In her presentation, “Writing the Book on Dolly Parton,” Hamessley discussed the nature of public scholarship and writing for a non-specialist audience while engaging musicologists in the process.

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