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Title: The people's princess : Grayson Perry and English cultural identity
Author: Murphy, Anna
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis will consider the art and persona of Grayson Perry in relation to ideas of national identity. In particular, it will argue that Perry has been occupied with ideas of class and national identity throughout his career, but that these underlying concerns have often been subsumed, or obfuscated, by the foregrounding of other more obvious aspects of his work, such as his transvestism. At the centre of this thesis is the argument that Perry's vision of England, and the purportedly ambivalent way in which he presents it, functions as a way of negotiating - and repatriating - English national identity at a time of crisis. I want to further argue, however, that this has been complicated by Perry's self-positioning, and I propose that he has cultivated an air of subversion and transgression that has tempered the more affirmative aspects of his work. This half-subversive, half-affirmative stance allows him and his work to resonate with both those critical of the usual institutions of contemporary art - including many sections of the public and certain newspapers, tabloid and broadsheet alike - as well as the institutions themselves. This stance has implications not only for Perry's engagement with contemporary art but for his considerations of national identity as well, enabling an enquiry into, and ultimately a restitution of, 'Englishness' (and, to a lesser extent, 'Britishness'), by framing it within a rhetoric of ambivalence and diminishment rather than overt nationalism, the latter of which would have more problematic associations. Similarly, I want to suggest that it is this stance and its mediatory properties, coupled with his earlier self-positioning and his subtle but consistent foregrounding of domestic and demotic issues of national identity throughout his career, that has made Perry such a popular candidate to take on the task of reinvigorating this identity now.
Supervisor: Wright, Alastair Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council ; Usher Cunningham Studentship
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Identity (Philosophical concept) in art ; Art ; English--21st century ; Transgression (Ethics) in art ; Transvestism ; Group identity--Great Britain