Male Control and Female Resistance in American Roots Music Recordings of the Interwar Period

Symons, Andrew Allan (2018) Male Control and Female Resistance in American Roots Music Recordings of the Interwar Period. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

Text (Doctoral Thesis)
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This thesis examines themes of male control and female resistance in commercially recorded American roots music of the interwar period, focusing primarily on recordings made in the years 1920-1940. It argues that much of the roots music recorded during this period communicated powerful messages about gendered and racial hierarchies to consumers. Rooted in close textual analysis of song lyrics and visual marketing materials for a plethora of commercially available roots music, the thesis deploys methodologies drawn from history, literary, cultural studies, and musicology. It questions why scholars have understudied themes of gendered power contestations and social control in commercially recorded roots music and the accompanying marketing materials during the interwar period.

Although scholars have acknowledged intersections of race, class, gender, and the construction of segregated roots music markets during the nascent stages of a rapidly-developing fledgling industry, this thesis contends that lyrical content and marketing materials also intersected with white supremacist and eugenic ideologies, reflecting ideas about social control of women during the interwar period. It advances extant scholarship on black and white female roots music artists active during the interwar period, underscoring and illuminating themes of female resistance to male control, inside and outside of the worlds created on commercial recordings.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Blues, Hillbilly, Female empowerment, Gender studies, Musicology
Subjects: L300 Sociology
W300 Music
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Humanities
Depositing User: Paul Burns
Date Deposited: 18 Jan 2019 14:18
Last Modified: 16 Sep 2022 15:45

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