Madonna as Postmodern Myth

How One Star’s Self-Construction Rewrites Sex, Gender, Hollywood and the American Dream


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About the Book

Madonna has long been accepted as a pop culture icon, but this text postulates a greater cultural importance by analyzing her as a postmodern myth. This work examines how Madonna methodically discovered and constructed herself (often rewriting her past), the nature and extent of her ambition and the means she used to reach her goals. It also details the way in which she organized her own cult (borrowing from the gay community), devised her artistic output, and cunningly targeted different audiences. It also studies the fundamental contradiction—virgin or vamp? saint or prostitute?—that fuels Madonna’s career and describes how Madonna reflects today’s society, its contradictions and its attitudes toward sexuality and religion.

About the Author(s)

Georges-Claude Guilbert is American studies and gender studies professor at the Université Le Havre Normandie, France. He supervises several doctoral students, in gender studies and LGBTQ+ studies. He lives in Notre Dame de Bondeville, France.

Bibliographic Details

Georges-Claude Guilbert
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 264
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2002
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1408-6
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8071-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     v
Preface     1

PART 1: Definitions     5
Myth     5
Postmodern: The Story So Far     13

PART 2: Desperately Seeking Stardom    26
Personal and Methodic Construction     27
Ambitious Grammar     38
An Organized Cult: The Wizard and Gays     61
Recuperation     76

PART 3: The Fundamental Contradiction     91
The Virgin and the Vamp     92
The Mother and the Whore     98

PART 4: Drag     111
The Expression Under the Mask     112
Voguing Along     123
Hollywood Palimpsests: Greta, Rita, Dita, and Others     131

PART 5: America’s Mirror     148
The American Dream     149
Sex and Puritanism     157
A Feminist Credo?     175
Madonna, Backer of the Patriarchy?     176

Conclusion      186
Notes     191
Madonna’s Works: References     215
Bibliography     219
Index     249

Book Reviews & Awards

“Witty…most interesting…recommended”—Choice