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"This American Skin": Bruce Springsteen and the complexity of American identity

Clark, Simon (2017) "This American Skin": Bruce Springsteen and the complexity of American identity. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

Bruce Springsteen is a significant and substantial figure within American popular culture. Through his songwriting he has chronicled the changing cultural, political and social landscape of the United States in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. His songwriting also consistently engages with the question of what it means to be American. Representations of Springsteen within the media, through performance and also within academic discussion, strongly promote a specific image of an ‘iconic’ Springsteen; an image which is strongly associated with whiteness, the working class and masculinity. This popular image of Springsteen has also influenced understandings of his work. This thesis, through close textual analysis, aims to look beyond these largely accepted ideas of Springsteen and his work, and shows that Springsteen’s songwriting, music and performance display greater complexity and diversity in their depiction of America and American identity than previously understood. Furthermore, this thesis will examine how Springsteen’s work, and consequently his depiction of American identity have changed, developed and diversified over the course of his career. This thesis will focus on five key areas of enquiry: concepts of authenticity, nostalgia, gender, sexuality, race and social class; and argue that Springsteen’s body of work strongly reveals a shifting, diverse and complex American identity.

Publication Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Arts
Supervisor: Moody, David and Mishra, Vijay
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/40835
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