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Title: A Sort of Homecoming: The Gaithers and Southern Gospel Into The Twenty First Century
Authors: Harper, Ryan Paul
Advisors: Weisenfeld, Judith
Contributors: Religion Department
Keywords: christianity
Subjects: Religion
American studies
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Abstract This dissertation examines songwriters Bill and Gloria Gaithers' Homecoming video and concert series--a gospel music franchise that, since its beginning in 1991, has outperformed all Christian and much secular popular music on the American music market. The Homecomings re-present traffic the "southern gospel" subgenre of gospel music--a subgenre that typically signifies a musical style popular among white evangelical Christians in the American South and Midwest but that often overlaps stylistically, thematically, and demographically with country music. The Homecomings' nostalgic, arcadian orientation--their lionization of ostensibly "traditional" kinds of rurality, domesticity, musicality, and revivalistic religion--harmonizes well with southern gospel music past and present. But amidst the backward gazes, the Homecomings also portend and manifest change. The Gaithers' deliberate racial integration of their stages, their careful infusion of a relatively progressive evangelical theology into a milieu where conservative evangelicalism prevails, and their experimentation with a broad array of musical forms, demonstrate that the Homecoming project is neither simply nor simplistically preservationist. This dissertation examines how the Gaithers negotiate the tension between preservation and modification of community norms as they seek simultaneously to maintain and expand their audience, and to initiate and respond to ideological shifts within the culture of their fan base. Using data I have collected from my immersion in the Homecoming audio and video corpus, my attendance of numerous concerts and tapings, my extensive conversations with Homecoming fans and the Gaithers themselves, I reveal the Homecoming world to be a crucible of religious identity formation. The Homecomings are dynamic sites, where racial, regional, sexual, and theological identity markers converge, conflict, and mutually constitute one another.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Religion

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