Cover

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Title Page, Frontispiece, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-v

Contents

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pp. vi-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xiv

During the course of writing this book, I have had the good company of fellow travelers who believe, like me, that popular music has something important to tell us. My work on this book started with my earlier one in this field, Johnny Cash and the Paradox of American Identity (Indiana University Press, 2009)...

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Introduction: Dolly Mythology

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pp. 1-26

Dolly Parton describes her “look” by referring to country Barbies and drag queens, fairy-tale princesses and “hillbilly hookers.” The singer has achieved global awareness of her signature “hillbilly Mae West” persona, what she calls her “Dolly image.” Parton is instantly recognizable for her big blonde wigs, elaborate...

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1. “Backwoods Barbie”: Dolly Parton’s Gender Performance

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pp. 27-63

When Parton makes her trademark jokes, such as, “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap,” she frames her own gender performance as being highly staged.1 To elaborate more fully on the evolution of Parton’s gender performance, it is important to outline the precise ways in which Parton plays on both aspects of...

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2. My Tennessee Mountain Home: Early Parton and Authenticity Narratives

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pp. 64-100

Parton has both questioned and embodied her hillbilly tramp image since the early stages of her career, and she has observed how her hyperbolic image itself has helped her establish a career in the first place. She notes the complicated cultural politics involved in that trope, as I discuss below in a cultural history of the...

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3. Parton’s Crossover and Film Stardom: The “Hillbilly Mae West”

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pp. 101-151

Dolly Parton frames her self-conscious fashioning of her own image as a character, a persona she can inhabit, a tool she uses to garner audience interest in her performances, whether on the musical stage, television, or a film screen. Parton’s Hollywood film stardom in particular has allowed her to engage in ever...

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4. Hungry Again: Reclaiming Country Authenticity Narratives

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pp. 152-176

In the 1990s, Parton faced a career crisis and turned to folk authenticity to solve it. She found her career at a crossroads in her fifties, staring down the prospect of diminishing returns in the pop arena and becoming irrelevant on country radio. In response, she used a passel of “blue mountain” albums to salvage her career...

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5. “Digital Dolly” and New Media Fandoms

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pp. 177-226

In the current era, from the early 2000s to the present, as Parton has incorporated higher levels of camp and fluidity into her image, she has fit her combination of “pure” mountain girl and country tramp to new contexts, including digital culture. Her evolving media image questions gender, performance, and authenticity...

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Conclusion: Brand Evolution and Dollywood

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pp. 227-236

I have been arguing that Parton’s gender performance is transgressive because she uses feminist camp to combine images of the pure mountain girl and the hillbilly tramp. As she plays a culturally validated version of femininity off of a vilified one, Parton in effect questions negative stereotypes and the social hierarchies...

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 237-250

Index

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pp. 251-267