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Horses in the Back: Negotiations of Black Identity through Cowboy Symbolism in American Popular Culture

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posted on 2023-06-06, 16:06 authored by Brigid Savage

In 2019 Lil Nas X released a country-trap song called “Old Town Road” that challenges the traditional boundaries of American popular music. This research paper examines the creation, maintenance, and subversion of myths in American popular culture through the lens of the song “Old Town Road.” With Roland Barthes’ work on mythologies as the theoretical framework, this research asks the following question: How does Lil Nas X, a young queer Black man, reshape the popular American iconography of the western cowboy in order to reconstruct mainstream popular culture representations? The research draws upon critical theory from a range of fields, including subculture, postcolonial, and intersectional feminist theory. This study finds that Black Americans have been marginalized by American history through racial stereotypes and strict social boundaries. However, through self-representation in music and style Black creators work to actively rewrite the myths of American identity.

History

Language

English

Degree

  • Master of Arts

Program

  • Communication and Culture

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type

  • MRP

Thesis Advisor

Dr. Susan Driver

Year

2020

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    Communication and Culture (Theses)

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