Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Angela M. Moe

Second Advisor

Dr. Zoann K. Snyder

Third Advisor

Dr. Chien-Juh Gu

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Rebekah Farrugia


Women's Studies; Gender Studies


This dissertation, "'All I Am': Defining Music as an Emotional Catalyst through a Sociological Study of Emotions, Gender and Culture", is based in the sociology of emotions, gender and culture and guided by symbolic interactionist and feminist standpoint theory. A primary focus is on understanding the emotional and empowering relationships women build with music that is written and performed by women, especially if they are using the music for emotional support or as a means to heal themselves. This study examines the cultural, emotional and gendered role music plays in day-to-day social life using data collected during forty-two semi-structured interviews with women who identified as fans of musician Tori Amos, as well as observations at three of Amos' concerts in 2009. Analysis focuses on how this music allows them to express emotions which have been labeled taboo or inappropriate for a woman (i.e. anger), how women have used Amos' music as a holistic approach to healing and how Amos' feminist identity is defined and understood as empowering for women. The findings conclude that women often seek out music written and composed by other women because they want to see their experiences reflected in the music they listen to. Further, the women interviewed described Amos' music as something they use to coax out, understand, or label the emotion they are feeling. Finally, women discussed Amos' status as a feminist musician as central to both helping them heal as well as empowering them to challenge hegemonic perceptions and patriarchal expectations of who or what a woman should be and what emotions are appropriate or her to express. This is significant because gender, emotions and music have not been explored from the perspective of the female fan, and are rarely discussed in the context of popular music. From a scholar-activist perspective, these results can be applied and used when training people (in clinical settings, social work settings, etcetera) to understand the stereotypes placed on women's emotions and to also consider holistic approaches to healing using female, feminist musicians.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access