Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Michael S. Bowman
In this study I used a critical ethnographic approach to investigate Elvis as a site of performance where cultural identity, authority and representation are contextualized within the cultural practices of fans, people who love Elvis, and funs, people who do not love Elvis, but still elect to use Elvis as the basis for their cultural performances. I argued that fans and funs use performance as the agency of postmodern identity construction. I explored three performance events in which both fans and funs participated. Additionally, I examined the relationship of power and play between and within fan and fun culture. I positioned fan and fun activities as cultural performances that enact political ideologies supported by members of fan and fun cultures. I focused on fans and funs as performers who enacted material, verbal, and processual texts. I detailed these performances in three case studies. In the first case study, written as a narrative, I discussed the performance of the Candlelight Vigil. I described the Vigil as a ritual and discussed how fans/funs use the performance to enact power relations within and between each culture. I also considered how performance of the Vigil aids postmodern identity construction for fans and funs. In the next case study, written as a screenplay, I critiqued the performance of the Graceland Mansion tour. I discussed how fans and funs are special types of tourists who use the tour context to further their own cultural identities and agendas. Finally, in the last case study I explored the critical implications of shopping for souvenirs as performance. I wrote the first part of the study as a brochure to highlight the rhetoric of objects featured at Graceland Plaza. The second part of the chapter I wrote as a scrapbook of "snapshots" to implicate my own autobiographical experience of shopping at Graceland Crossings in the same context as popular and academic discourse about souvenirs and shopping. I attempted to draw the connection between myself and fan/fun performances of shopping at both venues to determine if shopping was an empowering or disempowering performance of postmodern identity.
Heaton, Daniel Weaver, "Postmodern Messiah: A Critical Ethnography of Elvis Presley as a Site of Performance." (1997). LSU Historical Dissertations and Theses. 6489.