Druckansicht der Internetadresse:

Fakultät für Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft

Professur für Musikwissenschaft – Prof. Dr. Kordula Knaus

Seite drucken


Calendar icon Kalenderdatei (Für ältere Kalender klicken Sie bitte hier)
zur Übersicht

Pop Personae. Performing and Negotiating Identities in Popular Music

Konferenzzentrum der Universität Bayreuth

Conference by American, Music & Theater Studies
at the University of Bayreuth, Germany

When in the late 70’s David Bowie was asked about his alter ego The Thin White Duke’s alleged fascist character, the pop singer emphasized that this was not his political conviction. Instead, he underlined that the stage persona was an artificial creation: “What I’m doing is theatre, and only theatre. […] I’m using myself as a canvas and trying to paint the truth of our time on it.“1 Similar statements can be found by many other pop artists, i.e. Lady Gaga, Janelle Monáe, Annie Lennox, who thereby highlight pop music’s inherent theatricality. At the same time, many pop stars meticulously take care to appear approachable and “real”, which is supported by the media valuing “honesty”. The relation between theatricality and authenticity is rather complex and touches upon the diverse aspects – economical, historical, social – related to contemporary notions of “stardom” or “celebrity”. In pop music, there is a tension between scandal and convention, between surprise and predictability, and the creation of pop personae often shifts between reinvention and continuity, as well as between commerce and musical ambition or political conviction.

In the mid-2000s, Philip Auslander coined the term “musical persona” by referring to Simon Frith’s emphasis on the performative aspects of the star persona in Performing Rites (1996). To shift the focus to the performative aspects of (popular) music has meant a move beyond the analysis of musical structures and an inclusion of aspects of visual imagery, kinesics, style and fashion histories, a certain popular cultural knowledge and imagination, economics, including as well as a broadening of the methods of analysis (discourse analysis, historical perspectives, gender studies etc.). By creating their persona along the axes of identity categories like gender, race, sexuality, and others, pop singers participate in contemporary sociocultural discourses concerning these aspects. As various authors have emphasized, pop personae are thus not separated from the societies in which they appear, but can be interpreted as comments, projections or spaces of negotiation of sociocultural topics and diverse forms of identities.

January 24, 2020 (Friday)


Greeting of University President Prof. Dr. Stefan Leible
and Address of Welcome by Organisators


Featured Speaker
Philip Auslander: Persona: The Social Dimensions of Musical Identity


Coffee Break



Steffen Just: Putting the Persona in the Medium, or: The Persona as “Technico-Performativity”


Christofer Jost: Multimodal Rhetoric, or: What Pop Stars do. An Action-theoretical Approach to the Analysis of Pop Personae


Alicja Sulkowska: Performative Identity-Translation in the Intermedial Heterotopy of Korean Pop Music


Lunch Break



Lorenzo Santoro: The David Bowie’s first alias. “I felt like an actor”: Ziggy Stardust, and the performative approach to the quest of identity


Marija Grujic: Negotiating Pop Music History through Dance Persona: Madonna, Britney Spears and Lady Gaga


Patrick Grealey: Tracing sonic identity: hearing Rostam in ‘Half-Light’


Pascal Rudolph: “Hey, don't I know you?”. The Performance of Pop Musicians in Film


Coffee Break


Featured Speaker
Paula-Irene Villa Braslavsky: PornoPopEmPowerment 


Film Showing & Talk
„Dr. Blues“ (20 min.), written and produced by Philip Auslander

January 25, 2020 (Saturday)


Featured Speaker
Aisha Durham: The Politics of Masking: Strategic Class Performances by Black American Women in Popular Music Video


Coffee Break



Claudia Liebelt: Creating Pop Personae through Aesthetic Body Modification: the Case of Ajda ‘Süperstar’ Pekkan


Anna Benedikt: ‘We're limitless, we're not confined’ – Viktoria Modesta and the renegotiation of dis/ability in Pop Music


Coffee Break


Student Project Presentations


Lunch Break



Kai Arne Hansen: Reading Pop Personae: Outlining a Transmedial Approach for Studying the Multiple Construction of Artist Identities


Anne Kohl: "The Whole Package" – Star production non-stop. Constructions and Paradoxes of the Ideal Star Persona at Music Talent Shows


Katharina Rost: Dandies, Rockers and Younglings. Female pop musicians’ embodiments of familiar male-coded figures


Coffee Break


Featured Speaker
Stanley Hawkins: Dandified Personas in Pop Music

Verantwortlich für die Redaktion: Jonas Christian Würdinger

Facebook Twitter Youtube-Kanal Instagram LinkedIn Blog UBT-A Kontakt