Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2019

Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)

Degree In


First Advisor

Platte, Nathan

First Committee Member

Wilson Kimber, Marian

Second Committee Member

Cook, Robert C


This thesis is a study of the gender politics through musical discourse in the Mad Max series. Dystopian narratives are particularly interesting texts for study of gender because they allow for extreme hypothetical situations in worlds that are at once familiar and unfamiliar. Musical discourse in the Mad Max films both supports and complicates dominant readings of gender constructions. I consider the gender politics of the franchise, using Mad Max (1979) and Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) as case studies, and drawing on scholarship on gender in film music, feminist film theory, and Australian car culture. In analyzing this music, I consider its broader cultural connotations, including film music tropes and operatic character types. After considering these genre associations, I analyze the musical gestures for narrative content and consider how the placement of themes with images and dialogue influences that content, with attention to how these factors contribute to a gendered understanding of the character. As the first deep thematic analysis of music in the Mad Max films, my project extends existing scholarship on both onscreen performance and gender categorizations that include musical forces resistant to strict binary categorization. My analysis of gendered musical discourse emphasizes the power of inquiry about gender in film music to clarify, enrich, and complicate texts.


Dystopia, Film music, Gender, Mad Max, Science fiction


ix, 74 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 69-74).


Copyright © 2019 Lisa Pollock Mumme

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