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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Just another fan of yours : renegotiating Judy Garland's star status and contemporary fandom Hulsey, Hilary


In popular culture, Judy Garland is most commonly known for her role as Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz (Fleming 1939). She is also concurrently associated with the tragedies of her life, untimely death, and her status as a gay icon. These two labels, “tragic” and “gay icon,” have described Garland’s star status for nearly fifty years in newspaper articles, tertiary texts, and scholarly research. While they are grounded in reputable studies and historical evidence, the labels are seemingly no longer applicable upon observing the types of fans Garland continues to attract posthumously. This thesis aims to uncover the multi-faceted, multi-generational fandom of Garland through an audience reception study of her present fans. Through an exploration of their devoutness, I have discovered key terms involving emotional depth, authentic feelings, and empathy that supplement the publications on Garland from scholars such as Richard Dyer, Janet Staiger, Steven Cohan, and Ann Pellegrini. Ultimately, through the analysis of Garland’s star status and contemporary fandom, this thesis will prove that stars of bygone eras that remain fixtures in popular culture (and by means of a cult following) function as texts that are worthy of analysis as time and culture progresses.

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