A Foucauldian discursive analysis of the formation of national, musical and personal identity focusing on Porter’s ‘Fight songs’ composed whilst at Yale University and his later popular works

Taylor, Sally (2011) A Foucauldian discursive analysis of the formation of national, musical and personal identity focusing on Porter’s ‘Fight songs’ composed whilst at Yale University and his later popular works. BA dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    Abstract

    The motivation behind this dissertations was to answer the question, are Cole Porter’s 'Fight songs' key to tell the lie?

    By exploring the life of Porter and studying the language and coded signs in his 'Fight songs' and later Broadway classics we are able to examine the issues from a higher stance. Using the critical theories of Michel Foucault enables a better understanding of the formation of musical and national identity relating to Porter.

    Focusing on Foucault's main themes of sexuality and power, a literature review was carried out. This review also examined personal, national and musical identity and the impact of American musical theatre.

    This dissertation concludes that Porter played Foucault's 'games of truth', manipulating his life and the public perception of it at will. Through his life and his works he offered us infinite layers of the truth of identity through his evolving musical compositions. Moving beyond the existing boundaries he began liberating himself through a very public 'confession'.

    In his early life up to and including Yale he maintained a definite "front" and "back stage" identity. Porter’s fight songs were very much his "back stage" identity. A product of his social interactions, Porter's gender and sexuality could be seen as the dramatic effect, rather than the cause, of his performances. Influenced by his sexuality he was driven to stretch the limits of his talent as well as the limits of acceptability and to dare to be different.

    Musical Theatre gave Porter power and he exercised the metaphysics of power undermining the structures of control and forcing Broadway to include a kind of content it had never dared include before.

    The discursive analysis used in this dissertation can be applied to other composers.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries > School of Media and Performing Arts
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2012 11:23
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 11:58
    URI: http://eprints.port.ac.uk/id/eprint/7031

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