Performing Glam Rock

Gender and Theatricality in Popular Music
Philip Auslander
Explores the many ways glam rock paved the way for new explorations of identity in terms of gender, sexuality, and performance


When it first appeared in the early 1970s, glam rock not only caused a stir among audiences and performers, it also stood counterculture and psychedelic rock on their heads. Glam rock was outrageous and overtly theatrical, and its unforgettable characters—adorned with flamboyant costumes and heavy makeup and accompanied by elaborately constructed sets—were personified by performers such as Marc Bolan, David Bowie, Bryan Ferry, and Suzi Quatro. A sea change in rock performance had occurred.

Yet glam was as much about substance as style, and Performing Glam Rock delves into the many ways glam paved the way for new explorations of identity in terms of gender, sexuality, and performance. Philip Auslander positions glam historically and examines it as a set of performance strategies, exploring the ways in which glam rock—while celebrating the showmanship of 1950s rock and roll—began to undermine rock's adherence to the ideology of authenticity in the late 1960s.

In this important study of a too-often-overlooked phenomenon, Auslander takes a fresh look at the genius of the glam movement and introduces glam to a new generation of performance enthusiasts and scholars alike.

Philip Auslander is Professor in the School of Literature, Communication, and Culture at the Georgia Institute of Technology and author of numerous books, including Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture and Presence and Resistance: Postmodernism and Cultural Politics in Contemporary American Performance. He is editor of the major reference work Performance: Critical Concepts and coeditor, with Carrie Sandahl, of Bodies in Commotion: Disability and Performance.

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Praise / Awards

  • "A meticulous chronicle of a movement that has been called an embarrassing bridge between the Beatles and punk. The book's importance far transcends glam rock and its cultural context, as it advances a mode of approaching musical performance that has far-reaching consequences for the ways in which music is analyzed as performance."
    —Maria Delgado, Queen Mary, University of London

  • ". . . the definitive guide to a music genre that pushed past the clean-cut look and budding hippy vibe of 50s and 60s music, and into a world of gender ambiguous hard rock."
    —Anthony King, Bay Windows (Boston)

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 272pp.
  • 7 photos, 1 table.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2006
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-09868-2

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  • $89.95 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 2006
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-06868-5

Add to Cart
  • $29.95 U.S.