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"Ready to spread": P-Funk and the politics of signifyin(g)

  • Author / Creator
    Doleac, Benjamin G
  • The practice of appropriating a sign, icon or trope with an already-established meaning and investing it with a new meaning to produce a sign that retains both original and revised meanings is one example of what scholar Henry Louis Gates calls “Signifyin(g)”. I argue herein that musician George Clinton and his band P-Funk encode a subversive political program and a philosophy of life – a radically hybrid vision of cosmic liberation which I will call “heteroglossic utopia” – in their music, lyrics, visual iconography, stage performances and indeed their entire underlying social formation through the practice of Signifyin(g). In making this claim I draw extensively on a historical survey of Signifyin(g) practice in African American literature and music, the scholarship of Gates, Mikhail Bakhtin, and Paul Gilroy, and a series of interviews I conducted with Clinton and members of P-Funk while following them on tour in July of 2010.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2011-11
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3H14C
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Master's
  • Department
    • Department of Music
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Frishkopf, Michael (Music)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Moshaver, Maryam (Music)
    • Zackodnik, Teresa (English and Film Studies)