Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The music of the goth subculture: Postmodernism and aesthetics
by Mueller, Charles Allen, Ph.D., The Florida State University, 2008, 245; 3348523
Abstract (Summary)

Goth was a subculture derived from England’s punk movement, and it served as a pessimistic cultural and artistic response to The Cold War, and to the social and economic upheavals in Britain during the 1980s, and as an alternative form of English nationalism. Musical groups that came to be associated with goth developed a musical and visual style that was a postmodern pastiche of punk rock, glam rock, and Berlin cabaret styles. Gothic literature, classic horror movies, and early expressionist films were also influences on the music.

This dissertation uses the methodology of Dick Hebdige’s theory of subcultures to demonstrate how bands used gothic signifiers and aesthetics as a way to sharpen and continue the social commentary of the punk movement. In addition, the artists recognized the masculine logic of power and control as the root cause of many social problems, and they embraced seduction and feminine signifiers as subversive devices. Goth bands purged their music and image of characteristics associated with masculinity, and they composed songs dealing with gyno-centered traumas, domestic abuse, and everyday cruelty. The songs typically treated sex as a source of danger rather than pleasure.

Goth was not simply a fanciful label; the music exhibited many characteristics associated with Gothicism. A preoccupation with mood and ambience, nostalgia, camp humor, and the mocking of power, were all hallmarks of the genre. In addition, the way in which goth bands were highly influenced by the aesthetics of film and their appropriation of a wide variety of signifiers reflect the postmodern social milieu as described by Jean Baudrillard. Musical artists featured in this study include Bauhaus, The Cure, Christian Death, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Sisters of Mercy, and others.

Indexing (document details)
School: The Florida State University
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: DAI-A 70/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Modern literature, Cultural anthropology, Music, Philosophy
Keywords: 1980s music, Aesthetics, England, England music, Goth, Popular music, Postmodernism, Rock music, Subculture
Publication Number: 3348523
ISBN: 978-1-109-04574-1
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