Date of Award

8-2017

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Music

Major

Music

Major Professor

Leslie C. Gay Jr.

Committee Members

Rachel M. Golden, Daniel Magilow

Abstract

This thesis examines the musical community of GeekyCon, a convention centered around popular media, such as Harry Potter, Broadway, and Disney. The GeekyCon community results from the connection between the unofficial convention Facebook group and the yearly physical event. This interconnectivity allows both the live and mediated space of GeekyCon to function as a heterotopia, a concept first conceived by Foucault (1967) as a separate space outside of the dominant society in which ideas and identities can be freely explored. Through ethnographic research, including participant observation as well as interviews, I present the music of GeekyCon as an audiotopia, a sonic realization of heterotopia theorized by Josh Kun (2005). The musical experiences present at GeekyCon, both virtual and physical, provide members of the community with a means to negotiate personal as well as group identities and to decide what it means, as the convention slogan says, to “Get Your Geek On.

I divide the thesis based on several overarching musical themes important to the GeekyCon community. After my initial introduction, the second chapter, entitled “Why are the Wiggles Performing at GeekyCon?” elaborates on the concept of audiotopia. This chapter draws on examples from the Facebook group to demonstrate the way in which music found at the convention creates a site for group identity formation and negotiation, thus demonstrating iterations of audiotopia. The third chapter, “Yes All Witches,” further analyzes the inclusive and feminist environment found within this community. Drawing from the previous chapters’ discussion of audiotopia, I argue that the music at GeekyCon, specifically wizard rock, functions as an aurally enacted safe space. The next chapter, entitled “We’re All in This Together,” describes the participatory and performative practices at GeekyCon. The musical theater singalongs found at the convention blur the line between participatory and presentational music and help establish a sense of community at the convention. I furthermore connect the performative musical practices to a larger discussion of performativity within feminist scholarship. Finally, I conclude with a summary chapter placing my thesis within the larger fields of ethnomusicology and fan studies.

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