Denigrata Cervorum: interpretive performance autoethnography and female black metal performance

  • Jasmine Shadrack

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


I am concerned with the performance of subversive...narratives...the performance of possibilities aims to where unjust systems and processes are identified and interrogated. (Madison 280) If a woman cannot feel comfortable in her own body, she has no home. (Winterson, J; The Guardian 29.03.2013). Black metal is beyond music. It exceeds its function of musical genre. It radiates with its sepulchral fire on every side of culture [...] Black metal is the suffering body that illustrates, in the same spring, all the human darkness as much as its vital impetus. (Lesourd 41-42). Representation matters. Growing up there were only two women in famous metal bands that I would have considered role models; Jo Bench from Bolt Thrower (UK) and Sean Ysseult from White Zombie (US). This lack or under-representation of women in metal was always obvious to me and has stayed with me as I have developed as a metal musician. Women fans that see women musicians on stage, creates a paradigm of connection; that representation means something. Judith Butler states ‘on the one hand, representation serves as the operative term within a political process that seeks to extend visibility and legitimacy to women as political subjects; on the other hand, representation is the normative function of language which is said either to reveal or distort what is assumed to be true about the category of women’ (1). Butler references de Beauvoir, Kristeva, Irigaray, Foucault and Wittig regarding the lack of category of women, that ‘woman does not have a sex’ (Irigaray qtd. in Butler 1) and that ‘strictly speaking, “women” cannot be said to exist’ (Kristeva qtd. in Butler 1). If this is to be understood in relation to my research, my embodied subjectivity as performative text, regardless of its reception suggests that my autoethnographic position acts as a counter to women’s lack of category. If there is a lack of category, then there is something important happening to ‘woman as subject’. This research seeks to analyse ‘woman as subject’ in female black metal performance by using interpretive performance autoethnography and psychoanalysis. As the guitarist and front woman with the black metal band Denigrata, my involvement has meant that the journey to find my home rests within the blackened heart of musical performance. Interpretive performance autoethnography provides the analytical frame that helps identify the ways in which patriarchal modes of address and engagement inform and frame ‘woman as subject’ in female black metal performance.
Date of Award2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Northampton
SupervisorNiall Scott (Supervisor), Lorna Jowett (Supervisor) & Sonya Andermahr (Supervisor)

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