Giving 'em the old "razzle dazzle": the representation of femininity and female sexuality in the musical

Kirke, Nickie (2007) Giving 'em the old "razzle dazzle": the representation of femininity and female sexuality in the musical. BA dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

[img] PDF
Restricted to Registered users only

Download (114kB)


    The glamorous showgirl has been at the very heart of musicals since the genre began in the silent era. The aim of this dissertation is to examine the discourses around the images of femininity and female sexuality that are embodied in the figure of the showgirl in early musicals from the 1930s and in modern musicals produced in the twenty-first century. Two exemplary musicals from each era are closely analysed in each chapter and the relevance of the socio-historical conditions of the production context or the period setting of the narrative to the on-screen representation of the women are evaluated. The evaluation of the socio-cultural context of the 1930s musicals revealed anxieties about the changing role of women which are paralleled in the narratives of the early musicals. The feminist argument that women in films are eroticised and objectified for the pleasure of a male spectator was interrogated and it was found that, to a limited extent, these early musicals do provide some progressive images of women and of female independence. It was felt, however, that these positive images are too infrequent to mount a serious challenge to the dominant ideology of the time. It had been anticipated that the modern musicals would embrace and reflect the more liberal twenty-first century attitudes towards female sexuality, however it was found that the use of period settings created a tension between the more oppressive and conservative attitudes towards women of these historical eras and contemporary ideology. It was concluded that the image of the showgirl in both early and modern musicals provides a locus for conflicting attitudes to the feminine ideal, morality and female sexuality.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries > School of Media and Performing Arts
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2011 12:47
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 11:13

    Actions (login required)

    View Item

    Document Downloads

    More statistics for this item...