Texts in Performance: Identity, Interaction and Influence in U.K. and U.S. Poetry Slam Discourses
Gregory, Helen Fiona
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
This thesis aims to provide a close analysis of poetry slam in the United Kingdom and United States, using the tools of ethnography and discourse analysis to produce an in-depth account, which is sensitive to the discursively constructed, situated meanings of slam participants. The aim is to explore how slam is understood by its participants, producing a partial ethnography, rather than a definitive history, defence or critique of slam. The thesis is based predominantly on research conducted in four key sites (Bristol and London in the U.K. and Chicago and New York in the U.S.), and considers how slam has been reconstructed in different geographical and social contexts. In addition, this study seeks to highlight issues around: the ways in which artists understand art worlds and their positions within them; the multiple and complex power relations with which art world participants engage; the transient, enduring and virtual communities which art world participants form; the local, translocal and transnational networks which connect these communities and individuals; and the interactions between new/avant-garde and established/dominant art worlds. It is hoped that this analysis will enrich substantially the existing meagre body of research into poetry slam, providing valuable theoretical contributions to the study of art worlds and the social construction of self and relationships. Beyond this, the thesis aims to elucidate a social scientific paradigm which links micro level analyses with macro level social structures and processes, by allying work from multiple theoretical perspectives including those of interactionism, Antonio Gramsci, Pierre Bourdieu and discourse analysis. This paradigm is mobilised to illuminate how slam participants actively construct their identities and negotiate the complex power relations which structure their everyday interactions. In line with the poetic focus of this research, each analytic chapter of this thesis concludes with a haiku. I begin with this thought: Power relations/Are complex navigations/Through interaction.
University of Exeter Studentship
This research uses ethnographic and discourse analytic tools to explore the identity construction and status negotiation of poetry slam participants in four U.K. and U.S. cities.
PhD in Sociology