Through the Lens of Grunge: Distortion of Subcultures in Gentrified Seattle
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This thesis examines the effects of gentrification on subcultures in Seattle using grunge as an interpretive lens. Distortion is theorized as both an artistic/aesthetic practice and a translator of social/subcultural phenomena to understand the ambivalent and ironic sensibilities found within the study of grunge and Seattle subcultures, in both the early 1990s and present day. The research begins with an analysis of grunge in the popular culture industry in the 1990s to track instances of social breach and cultural creation/destruction, and then further examined through the model of early subcultural studies. The problematics that arise are then reappraised within an analysis of grunge in the post-subcultural model, which makes space for study of the current activity and subcultural participation of grunge. A case study of the current socio-political and economic issues in Seattle is then presented. Grunge is then revealed to be presently practiced and understood in both dominant culture and subcultural formations as a spectrum of nostalgia and revivalism. Here, the ironies and ambivalences of grunge style, practice, and form are revealed and studied as paradoxical concepts. These complex webs are finally understood to be generative spaces for the creation of new meaning through retroactive forms of performance, both artistically and culturally.
Kempf, Brandon Gregory (2019). Through the Lens of Grunge: Distortion of Subcultures in Gentrified Seattle. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from