Performing freakery: American freak shows, popular culture and regimes of normalisation in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries

Guy Charles Murrunku Kirkwood

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Abstract

This dissertation examines how freak show performers inhabited, contested and actively performed identities during the historical lifespan of the popular American freak show, 1830-1940. I locate various freak show performers within a broad context of historically specific racially-gendered regimes of normalisation across the mid-nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries. I trace performers shifting participation in response to fundamental changes in American popular culture, the development of the outdoor amusement industry, new understandings of bodies as mechanical machines, and the medical pathologisation of bodies that departed from the normative and ideal.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Western Australia
Thesis sponsors
Award date24 Aug 2018
DOIs
Publication statusUnpublished - 2018

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Popular Culture
Performer
Normalization
Life Span
Industry
Fundamental
Amusement
Participation
American Popular Culture

Cite this

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