Date of Award

8-2006

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

Advisor

Eric E. Peterson

Second Committee Member

Kristin M. Langellier

Third Committee Member

Laura Lindenfeld

Abstract

Blues Story is a documentary film that presents "the story of the Blues told through the eyes of the musicians that lived it." In this film, various blues artists perform narratives about the history, people, places, and politics behind blues music. Attending to the lived experience of these musicians constructs a space whereby traditional assumptions of homology between music and cultural identity are challenged. Phenomenological descriptions of the "blues stories" performed by the musicians reveal fourteen emergent themes of meaning. Phenomenological reduction and interpretation of the blues artists' narratives indicates that their lived experiences of blues emerge not only through a sociocultural identification, but also through an embodied, aesthetic, and personal experience of music and identity. These two structures of meaning exist as intersubjective and mutually constitutive elements essential to understanding how cultural identity emerges through the musicians' narratives about blues. In particular, the first structure addresses the experience of blues as a personal phenomenon; or how blues music and identity are embodied and performed by the musicians. The second structure of meaning addresses the experience of blues as a collective phenomenon; or how blues and identity are experienced socioculturally and politically. Contention with these structures aids our understanding of how cultural identity emerges from everyday performances, as well as how meanings tied to music and identity are necessarily co-constituted by both personal and sociocultural experiential contexts.

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