Alternative music : jazz and the performance resignification of identity in Ann-Marie MacDonald's Fall on Your Knees and Anthony Minghella's The Talented Mr. Ripley
Poluyko, Kristen K.
Master of Arts
SubjectIdentity (Psychology) in literature
Sex role in literature
Identity (Philosophy) in literature
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In this thesis, I argue that Jazz, a music which finds its basis in improvisation, not only functions as music, but as an extremely potent means of political resistance to a number of systems by and through which identity is constructed, distributed, regulated, and enforced. I also argue that, as a form of music and of resistance, jazz is, quite paradoxically, a part of the very system(s) that work(s) to construct, distribute, regulate, and enforce normative and/or compulsory categories of identity—but that resistance always takes place within the systems that give normative and/or compulsory categories of identity their intelligibility. And, finally, I argue that there exists a relationship between jazz and Judith Butler's theory of gender performativity, which functions as a means by which to unsettle and subvert foundational categories of gender, sexuality, and race. In the following pages, I examine the ways in which two texts, Ann-Marie MacDonald's Fall On Your Knees (1996) and Anthony Minghella’s The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) highlight and dramatize each of these precepts. While Fall On Your Knees illustrates the various ways jazz and gender performativity work to subvert and unsettle foundational categories of identity. The Talented Mr. Ripley, quite alternatively, illustrates the various ways in which jazz and gender performativity sustain these same foundational categories of identity by allowing Tom Ripley an entrance into normativity. Although each text—in which jazz and gender performativity play and intricate role in the subversive practices of signification but are unable to provide a number of characters a means of sustained and successful subversion—ends on an ultimately dour note, the fact that subversion occurs at all is what remains important.