grunge feminism

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I came to San Diego State three years ago determined to creatively engage with primary sources and theory through the digital. I set out to research a medium, IN its medium, and then create a platform where the musical artifacts were left intact; accessible and not interpreted for the reader. I wanted the reader to experience, what I experienced. After a couple of existential crises surrounding “feminism” and a lengthy administrative battle to create a digital piece of scholarship for my degree, my thesis is ready in its 1.0 phase.

If you choose to click on the link below, you’ll find an interactive PDF specifically created in a non-linear format. That means that there is no “one way” to read this. There is no beginning, there is no end. It’s written in a way that you can access anything from anywhere. There are hyperlinks in the document (little purple boxes). Click on one of those and POOF! you’re Alice falling down a rabbit hole and you’ll end up in another section (which will make sense when you get there…or not.) Click on one of the listed images or songs from the introduction and you’ll be brought right there and be able to listen, view, or read a quote. Go in, fall back out, follow a trail, or read one whole section. It’s meant to be experienced…in any kind of state. Come on in, the grunge is grunge.

grunge feminism: performing gender paradox in queered plays of hypertexuality


Linnea Zeiner M.A. History, San Diego State University, 2015

The history of grunge and the meaning of its musical expression has suffered as a result of its early categorization as a hyper-masculinized and hetero-sexualized rock genre. This unfortunate classification at the hands of rock journalism and music media outlets misinterpreted the artists’ cultural criticisms as simply anti-authority and generation X angst, when in fact, many artists posed serious challenges to late 20th century conventions of gender, sexuality, and feminism. These male and female artists,rebelled against binary gender conventions by performing queered and camped identities, that were commercially misinterpreted, packaged as “grunge”, and sold to the masses. Consequently, in spite of commercial praise and success for their music, the many gender provocateurs in grunge have been widely overlooked by scholarship and activism. The female grunge artists have had it the worst; lacking the recognition as both gender-fucking performers and as serious contributors to a unique music movement that saw more female-led bands with mainstream airplay, high album sales, and more concert tickets sold, than ever before in rock history. This thesis, in order to exhume the untold history of grunge, discards the old categories and cultural trappings created for the genre and instead explores the performative value of its abstractions, contradictions, and abjections as feministic expressions. To begin to disinter the marginalized female grunge artists, it is necessary to begin with unequivocally, the most marginalized and chastised female of all, Courtney Love. Love’s legacy has been so distorted that her counter-culture feministic expressions have been subsumed. This thesis aims to illuminate the physical and lyrical hypertext deployed by Love to create her personal evolution of her punk feminism, grunge, into a new queered feministic expression examined through her albums Pretty on the Inside (1991) and Live Through This (1994).

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