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Title: Myth ascendant : issues of culture, media, and identity in the celebrity career of Glenn Gould
Author: Campbell, Alasdair James Islay
ISNI:       0000 0004 7430 6862
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis applies a sociological framework to the North American celebrity career of Canadian pianist and broadcaster Glenn Gould (1932-1982) to account for Gould's iconic status as an artist in modern musical culture. Despite the persistent cultural fascination with Gould, as evidenced in the seemingly endless supply of biographies, films, novels, and fan texts which narrate and celebrate his life and work, modern Gould scholarship has consistently neglected issues relating to his artistic reception. This thesis proposes that the modern Gould phenomenon is productively analysed in terms of the contexts of its historical production in North America, where it first originated. Focusing on the circumstances of Gould's career during his lifetime, it identifies three areas of overlapping conceptual interest that provide the basis for an explanatory account of his modern mythology: i) Gould's relationship to the culture of his time, particularly in Canada; ii) Gould's relationship to the mass media; iii) Gould's relationship to his own artistic identity. This approach is refined through the application of Stuart Hall's 'Circuit of Culture' model, which yields an understanding of Gould's celebrity in terms of the processes of its representation, production, regulation, and consumption. Against this theoretical backdrop, and consistent with the premise of my thesis, I ask some key questions: what was Gould's relationship to Canadian cultural nationalism and, specifically, a nationalist discourse of public broadcasting? How did media institutions brand his image, and for what commercial purposes? How did Gould mobilise understandings of his genius and Canadian identity through his artistic discourse and experimental media self-representations as a 'Northerner' and a technologist? Based on this analysis, the thesis concludes that Gould continues to fascinate because of the unique ideological work performed by his cultural identities, and because of the highly mediated nature of his celebrity. The ubiquity of his image on video-sharing websites and social media platforms is a vindication of his radical belief in the validity of a musical career pursued primarily through the electronic media.
Supervisor: Clarke, Eric ; Aspden, Suzanne Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Cultural Musicology ; Sociology ; Celebrity Studies ; Cultural Reception ; Identity and Self-Identity ; Artistic Promotion, Marketing, Branding ; Mythology and Iconicity ; Marshall McLuhan ; Canadian Broadcasting ; Fame and Celebrity ; CBC ; Circuit of Culture ; Cultural Production, Representation, Regulation, Consumption ; Columbia Records, Columbia Masterworks ; Technology ; Canadian Nationalism ; Glenn Gould ; Narrative, Discourse, Archetype, Rhetoric ; Ideology ; Genius and Authenticity ; Media and Mediation ; North