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Sonic Feminism: Intentionality, Empathy, and Emotions at Rock and Roll Camps

  • Author(s): Propst, Paula
  • Advisor(s): Wong, Deborah
  • et al.

This dissertation examines the relationship between empowerment and emotions at rock and roll camps for girls and queer youth in Southern California through a lens of affect theory. As affiliated members of the umbrella organization known as the Girls Rock Camp Alliance, the five rock and roll camps in this study highlight the interconnected community of feminist organizations in a single region. I explore three ideas through analyses of various aspects of rock and roll camps. First, I argue that organizers and volunteers at these rock camps prepare urban camp spaces (and in some cases, more traditionally rooted summer camp settings) for campers and incorporate intentional feminist-oriented ideas to spark positive affect responses during rock camps. Further, I argue that these spaces remain rooted in local aesthetics, but the production of affective environments is a similar process throughout the region. Second, I examine the development of empowerment through empathetic, intergenerational relationships at rock camps. Different generations present at these rock camps deconstruct ageist thinking and form relational autonomous bonds through practices of empathetic listening skills. Last, I analyze how campers experience their musical voices through musical performances and the use of gender coded instrumentation. Further, I examine the performative relationship between musicians and audience members; I argue that the process of empowerment emerges through practiced performativity and produces a continual circuit during sound performance. These three ideas constitute a model that deploys the emotions performatively and makes empowerment to happen. Affective performativity is activated in accessible feminist-oriented spaces, intergenerational relationships, and embodied knowledge, helping campers to deconstruct gender norms through applied methods of music education.

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