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Title:“I hear music when I look at you”: Teenage agency, mass media, and Frank Sinatra in World War II America
Author(s):Hollenbach, Katie Beisel
Director of Research:Magee, Gayle S.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Magee, Gayle S.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Magee, Jeffrey; Bashford, Christina; Turnock, Julie
Department / Program:Music
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):World War II, Fandom, Frank Sinatra, Popular Culture, Gender
Abstract:The years following World War II have seen a wealth of scholarship dedicated to the topic revealing the undeniably huge impact the war had on people and politics throughout the world. In terms of the United States’ involvement in the war, most scholarship addresses the conflict through the lens of adult experiences and viewpoints, leaving a gap in regards to those experiences of Americans that were too young to contribute to the war in the most emphasized ways, namely by serving in the military or entering the workforce. This dissertation aims to reveal how American youth, and teenage girls in particular, navigated their feelings and understandings of patriotism, self-identity, sexuality, and gender roles during an era defined by uncertainty and fear, primarily through consumption of and participation in popular culture. More specifically, this study will explore the expansive yet close-knit community of teenage female fans of Frank Sinatra during the years of World War II, and how they used Sinatra as a focal point in which to direct these complex feelings. Central to this investigation is the close study of recently unearthed published fan club newsletters and correspondences, which were authored, printed, and distributed entirely by the primarily female and teenage members of Frank Sinatra fan clubs. These newsletters provide significant insight into how American teenage girls consumed popular culture, how popular culture helped them navigate their wartime lives, and what they valued in entertainment and their lives in general, through their own perspectives. Far from reinforcing stereotypes that these teenage fans were immature and removed from reality, the structures and cultural objects produced by wartime Sinatra fan clubs reveal a community of young Americans that demonstrated considerable levels of creativity, professionalism, and passion.
Issue Date:2018-04-19
Rights Information:Copyright 2018 Katie Beisel Hollenbach
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-09-04
Date Deposited:2018-05

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