Strange fascination : a study of David Bowie
This thesis examines the work of David Bowie and its main theme is identity construction. Bowie was the first male pop star to project a succession of personae and his vocal styles, stage performances, lyrical method and videos are analysed in the light of his redefinitions of himself for public consumption. Bowie's guiding aesthetic was that of collage and his indebtedness to a variety of extra-musical sources, most significantly from literature and the theatre, is discussed. The theses eschews traditional narrative approaches which have been used to discuss individuals within pop, and deals with its subject matter thematically. The thesis describes the context in which Bowie's work is set and discusses the commercial constraints on his art, the relationship between the work and pop ideology, and the struggle between his public and private selves. The interaction between iconography and fandom is shown as playing a crucial role in determining his importance, and this analysis draws on my findings from correspondence with Bowie fans. Bowie's protean art has demanded a multi-disciplinary analytical approach and the thesis discusses the usefulness of musicology, semiotics, subcultural theory and Postmodernist thinking. The thesis suggests a way of explaining individuals in pop through a theoretical equilibrium between text and context.