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Title: Radical bodies in music video : feminism, queerness, and subversive performance of gender
Author: Donnelly, Ryann
ISNI:       0000 0004 6494 1221
Awarding Body: Goldsmiths, University of London
Current Institution: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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It is the objective of this research to establish how categories of sex and gender have been subverted through queer and feminist performance in music video since the launch of MTV in 1981. It was at this point that music video entered domestic space, and became a fixture of the music industry. The medium’s cultural ubiquity, and its continually provocative aesthetic experimentation since MTV's inception reinforce this period as an arena of study. This project is approached in critical and practical ways, which respond to the following research questions: How is gender performed to subversive effect in music video? How have methods of performative subversion in music video participated in, or been affected by significant social and technological shifts since 1981? In its critical approach, this thesis considers music videos in dialogue with queer, feminist, and dramatic theory as a means of locating queer and feminist agency in subversive performance. Chapters of the text have been organised in consideration of significant cultural conjunctures, which further contextualise subversive strategies of performance in the work. The first chapter examines music videos whose aesthetics and themes participated in the project of AIDS awareness between the late 1980s and early 1990s. The second chapter explores the proliferation of gender identities in the contemporary landscape of music video. It considers how this has been accommodated by changing modes of production, distribution, and regulation after the internet, and shifting norms of gender and sexuality, evidenced by the legalisation of same sex marriage in the United States and the United Kingdom. The final chapter examines the intersection of sexual and racial identity in work by black artists since the Black Lives Matter movement began in 2012. The practical methodology of this thesis culminates in video projections whose incorporation in live pop music performance creates music videos in real time. This work operates within the post-internet expansion of the medium’s visual economy—its form, regulation, distribution, and borders—and draws on first-hand manipulation of the actions and images which define gender norms. These works expand visual themes of feminism and queerness in a live setting through modes of subversive gender performance, comparable to those explored in the objects of study. In this research, text, video, and performance function together. The critical identification and interpretation of subversive performance both relies on, and informs its practical production.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral