Dolly Parton, Gender, and Country Music

Dolly Parton, Gender, and Country Music

Leigh H. Edwards
Distribution: World
Publication date: 01/10/2018
Format: Paperback None
ISBN: 978-0-253-03155-6
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Dolly Parton is instantly recognizable for her iconic style and persona, but how did she create her enduring image? Dolly crafted her exaggerated appearance and stage personality by combining two opposing stereotypes—the innocent mountain girl and the voluptuous sex symbol. Emerging through her lyrics, personal stories, stage presence, and visual imagery, these wildly different gender tropes form a central part of Dolly’s media image and portrayal of herself as a star and celebrity. By developing a multilayered image and persona, Dolly both critiques representations of femininity in country music and attracts a diverse fan base ranging from country and pop music fans to feminists and gay rights advocates. In Dolly Parton, Gender, and Country Music, Leigh H. Edwards explores Dolly’s roles as musician, actor, author, philanthropist, and entrepreneur to show how Dolly’s gender subversion highlights the challenges that can be found even in the most seemingly traditional form of American popular music. As Dolly depicts herself as simultaneously "real" and "fake," she offers new perspectives on country music’s claims of authenticity.

Author Bio

Leigh H. Edwards is Associate Professor of English at Florida State University. She is author of Johnny Cash and the Paradox of American Identity and The Triumph of Reality TV: The Revolution in American Television.


“Leigh H. Edwards takes a close look at Dolly Parton’s songwriting, recordings, acting, and public persona and convincingly demonstrates that Parton is not only a powerful Appalachian musician but also a remarkably engaged artist who uses her many talents to engage with issues of gender, sexuality, and class.”
 — Travis D. Stimeling, author of Cosmic Cowboys and New Hicks

“Leigh H. Edwards's tremendous book brings our understanding of Dolly Parton's career and significance to a new level. Anyone who wants to understand Parton's contributions, not just to country music, but to American culture in general, should read Dolly Parton, Gender, and Country Music.”
 — Kristine M. McCusker, author of Lonesome Cowgirls and Honky Tonk Angels

“In this compelling analysis, Leigh Edwards shows us how Dolly Parton, the masterful manipulator of media images and country authenticity, artistically melds elements from her biography with fantasies of success into a career that spans decades, crosses genres, and inspires millions of fans. Read this book to learn how Parton manages to be simultaneously fake and real, ordinary and extraordinary, normal and outrageous. A model of interdisciplinary scholarship.”
 — Barry Shank, author of , The Political Force of Musical Beauty

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Dolly Mythology
1. "Backwoods Barbie": Dolly Parton's Gender Performance
2. My Tennessee Mountain Home: Early Parton and Authenticity Narratives
3. Parton's Crossover and Film Stardom: The "Hillbilly Mae West"
4. Hungry Again: Reclaiming Country Authenticity Narratives
5. "Digital Dolly" and New Media Fandoms
Conclusion: Brand Evolution and Dollywood
Works Cited

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