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Performing Glam Rock: Gender and Theatricality in Popular Music [Paperback]

Philip Auslander

Price: CDN$ 30.18 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

Feb. 1 2006
When it first appeared in the early 70s, glam rock stood counterculture and psychedelic rock on their heads. The glam phenomenon featured flamboyant, overtly theatrical, and artificial personae constructed through costume, makeup, and sets and was personified by performers, such as David Bowie, Marc Bolan, Bryan Ferry, and Suzi Quatro. "Performing Glam Rock" situates the glam rock phenomenon historically and examines it as a set of performance strategies. Philip Auslander explores the ways in which glam rock, while celebrating the showmanship of 1950s rock and roll, began to undermine rock's adherence to the ideology of authenticity in the late 1960s. The book's chapters take up glam's roots (which Auslander traces back to sources that include Alice Cooper and the 1950s retro group Sha Na Na); the emergence of glam rock's androgynous masculinity; Marc Bolan's transition from psychedelic to glam rock with his band T. Rex; David Bowie's theatrical presence; the genre blending of Bryan Ferry and Roy Wood; and Suzi Quatro's own androgynous performances as the only female glam rocker.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 259 pages
  • Publisher: Univ of Michigan Pr (Feb. 1 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0472068687
  • ISBN-13: 978-0472068685
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 16 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 381 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #348,241 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


""Performing Glam Rock" reminds us just how important music, and especially popular music, is as a site for understanding subjectivity and social movements through performance. . . . A useful book on an undertheorized but important genre of popular music-glam rock."-Susan Fast, author of "In the Houses of the Holy: Led Zeppelin and the Power of Rock Music"

About the Author

Philip Auslander is Professor in the School of Literature, Communication, and Culture at Georgia Tech, and author of numerous books, including Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture and Presence and Resistance: Postmodernism and Cultural Politics in Contemporary American Performance.

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Performing Glam Rock Review April 16 2006
By Peter T. Shapiro - Published on Amazon.com
I recommend this book to rock music aficionados who hunger for deeper analysis and more thoughtful work than is the typical fare for books about this genre. It helps to have some interest or fond memories for glam rock, but the chapters about performers one may not know that well or never cared for (e.g., Suzie Quatro, for me) are as compelling as those about ones personal faves. While some of the discussion may be a tad academic for the casual reader, I urge the casual reader to read on, because he will learn something and be entertained. The author is well aware that writing a book is a performance of sorts, and does not ignore his obligation to keep the reader entertained even as some sophisticated and/or obscure concepts are dealt with.

Full disclosure: the author is a college friend of mine and I am thanked in the credits for having read over a few chapters in draft. - Peter Shapiro
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Defining this moment in rock music April 29 2006
By John Matlock - Published on Amazon.com
Glam Rock was a short lived moment in popular music that essentially lasted only about five or six years, say from 1970 to 1975. In 1970 we were long past the time when Ed Sullivan would only show Elvis from the waist up. The pill has made basic changes in the outlook of the young towards sex. Here in the US, the Viet Nam war, Watergate and Kent state were changing the view of the people.

In music the time was ripe for a change and a series of musicians did that with a new form of rock that featured extremely theatrical performances with outrageous (for the time) costume, makeup and sets. This was called Glam Rock. It drew upon the history of previous styles of rock and added a theatrical aspect to music that was minimally modified.

This book traces the history of Glam Rock from its beginnings with T. Rex and goes through the advent of Suzi Quatro. It explains what Glam Rock was and a bit about how it evolved into the next phase of music.
5.0 out of 5 stars Better Hang on to Yourself March 26 2006
By Z. Stiegler - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Although I've only recently begun to read up on performance studies, it seems to me that Auslander has chosen a particularly illustrative case study in glam rock. Within a genre so explicitly focused on the construction and performance of identity, it's actually a bit surprising that this book hadn't already been written.

While Auslander comes from the performance studies tradition, Performing Glam Rock also serves as a great overview of the genre. The book includes a great deal of history, making it a worthwhile read for anyone interested in the genre. The big guns are profiled in depth to illustrate the glam's traits: Bolan (style), Bowie (theatricality), Roxy Music (gender) and Suzi Quatro (more gender, specifically female masculinity).

Overall, an accessible and compelling read.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Performing Glam Rock: Gender and Theatricality in Popular Mu March 31 2006
By Jason Toynbee - Published on Amazon.com
Performing Glam Rock does a brilliant job of explaining this elusive moment in rock history. For the first time we have a book which makes sense of glam: pretty boys (and one girl) in lurex and make up who swept away rock's no-performance code. As Phil Auslander shows, glam subverted rock's gender sterotyping too, and opened up the possiblity of new kinds of expression around sex and identity.

Along the way we get some engaging, funny and always insighful anlysis of the performance of glam artists from Bolan to Quatro. It's too early to name a rock book of the year for 2006, but this is surely a candidate.

Jason Toynbee

Lecturer in Media Studies, Open University

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