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A gendered musicological study of the work of four leading female singer-songwriters: Laura Nyro, Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush, and Tori Amos

Berköz, Levent Donat (2012). A gendered musicological study of the work of four leading female singer-songwriters: Laura Nyro, Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush, and Tori Amos. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


This thesis investigates the role of gender in popular music, exploring the possibility of a feminine mode of writing. It focuses on the work of four leading female singer-songwriters, namely Laura Nyro, Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush and Tori Amos, whose songs are analyzed as textual entities. Building a theoretical bridge between musicology and feminist theory, the relationship between the text and the body is examined. The discursive perspective of this research allows pieces of popular music to be considered not only as ideologically signifying cultural commodities but also as textually signifying entities of words, music and images complementing (rather than supplementing) one another; in other words, that their cultural and ideological embodiments may be musicologically interpreted in tandem. My analysis of popular music pieces created and envoiced by these four artists departs from the presumption of the significance of gender-consciousness informing this word-music-image entity, located simultaneously at a representational and textual/musical level. Throughout this thesis, different female subjectivities are discussed, drawing primarily upon French feminism. Theories which establish a foundation for my arguments are Julia Kristeva’s the semiotic, Luce Irigaray’s feminine multiplicity and Hélène Cixous’s écriture féminine, as well as Joan Riviere’s womanliness as masquerade. The resulting multilayered discourse acquires an interdisciplinary character, drawing upon and seeking to contribute to fields such as feminist musicology, popular music studies and gender theory. It also aims to shed light on issues from which gendered discourses arise, both in general terms and in the specific realm of music. This thesis concludes by discussing the extent to which female musicians achieved the feminization of popular music through manipulating both the lyrical and musical structures imposed by dominant discourses.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: Please note that, for reasons of third party copyright, pp. 277 - 305 have been deleted from the electronic version of the thesis here available.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Communication & Creativity > Performing Arts > Music
School of Communication & Creativity > School of Communication & Creativity Doctoral Theses
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