Archetypes in white commercial gospel musics: constructing Christian Nationalist identity
Kieswetter, Vivia Kay
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"Alan Lomax famously posited: ""the chief function of song is to express the shared feelings and mold the joint activities of some human community. It is to be expected, therefore, that the content of the sung communication should be social rather than individual, normative rather than particular"" (Lomax 1968: 3). The songs to be explored in this dissertation come under the large umbrella of what I am calling ""White Commercial Gospel Music(s),"" a term which, by my definition, encompasses Bluegrass Gospel, Gospel-tinged Country Music, Southern Gospel Quartet Singing, a large portion of Contemporary Christian Music, and a portion of the ""Hillbilly"" music of the early and middle twentieth century. It is the vernacular and popular sacred music that in large part originates from, and in its early history was consumed in, what has been called by sociologists the ""Vernacular South,"" (Harvard Dialect Survey 2003, Cukor-Avila 2001) the region of the United States South from Kentucky and West Virginia, and West to Louisiana. As a group of genres, WCGMs are harmonically accessible, have repetitive natures that invite singing along, and for the most part adhere to Harlan Howard's famous description of what a country song should contain: ""three chords and the truth."" This dissertation presents findings from an extensive repertoire survey of WCGMs, fieldwork trips to the Vernacular South (particularly to the 2011 and 2012 National Quartet Conventions), and discourse analysis of the repertoire surveyed. It seeks to draw connections between archetypes contained within WCGM lyrics and music and identities within the highly politicized section of modem Christian Southern Evangelicalism called ""Christian Nationalism"" (Goldberg 2006). Through the theoretical lenses of Carl Jung (1902, 1912, 1934), Judith Butler (1990 1996), and Marvin Carlson (2003), the dissertation draws connections between the performative elements of this music and modem Christian Nationalist identity."