Transgression, Exceptionality and Reception in fandom contexts”

Prince, the 80s flamboyant enigma and multinstrumentalist always tingled the lines of the exceptional. From the early days of his career he blurred the lines of race, gender and sexuality in his anti- and non-normative performance and dress practices. His ability to transgress and to interfere with different cultural subtexts, created the image of an exceptional artist and performer who continuously questioned gendered imageries and dress codes for example by engaging in female (connoted) dressing techniques: wearing lace pants and gloves, high heels and make-up. In expressing the longing for a female body (If I was ur girlfriend, 1987) he challenged his audience to continually decode and encode his stage alter-ego, which also influenced many of his long-term fans to question their own gender-habitus and their approach to their own male identity especially during adolescence in which most of them started into their fandom. This study is concerned with focusing on the question in which ways the alterity and exceptionality of an artist affects his recipients over their life-course. How this exceptionality is understood and decoded. How it is cause and effect for/of the adoration, and how Princes’ continuous changing and transgression of cultural norms has made him an exceptional artist and performer during the last four decades.


Carla Schriever is a lecturer in musicology and philosophy at the University of Oldenburg, Germany. Her main research interests are gender, music and social philosophy. She is currenty completing her PhD at the Humboldt University in Berlin.