“In the ideological project of the musical, gender identity has a central role in determining its political significance. Considering the period that spans between 1980 and 2012, the shifts in gender politics and debates have played a key role in reshaping the forms of the musical for new audiences. At the same time, the genre has increasingly focused on subjectivities who assert their gender identity through a performance that gestures towards a fluidity between gender positions, thus escaping “normative” identity categories.
In this talk, I will analyse the interdependence of gender and genre by focusing on the relationship between identity and the construction of space and time in the musical through a paradigmatic case study: Flashdance (A. Lyne, 1983). Starting from Bakhtin’s theorisation of the chronotope, I will examine how the focus on the female protagonist redefines the time and space characteristic of the fairy tale musical subgenre in relation to the setting in 1980s Pittsburgh, in which hip hop music and dance play a key role.
Adopting an intersectional framework, my analysis will demonstrate how the opposition between overly-masculine and upper-class spaces on the one hand and the street and postindustrial landscapes on the other informs the protagonist’s ambiguous gender and racial identity, while problematising her role in the gentrification of Pittsburgh. Further contextualising the film in contemporary debates on gender and the regeneration of the city, I will show that the film offers more nuanced identity politics than the common critical reception has attributed to it, recuperating Flashdance as a site of negotiation of both identity and cultural anxieties.”
Wednesday 15 November, 5:15 pm, ArtsOne, Hitchcock Cinema (G19).
Refreshments to follow.