Doctoral Dissertation

21.3. M.A. Henna Jousmäki (Humanistinen tiedekunta, English)


21.3.2015 12:00 — 15:00

Location: Mattilanniemi , Agora, Auditorio 3
Release: Dissertation: 21 Mar 2015 Christian metal online: the discursive construction of identity and culture (Jousmäki)
M.A. Henna Jousmäki defends her doctoral dissertation in English "Christian metal online: The discursive construction of identity and culture". Opponent PhD, Reader Annabelle Mooney (University of Roehampton) and custos Professor Sirpa Leppänen (University of Jyväskylä).

Henna Jousmäki. Photographer: Tarja Vänskä-KauhanenM.A. Henna Jousmäki defends her doctoral dissertation in English "Christian metal online: The discursive construction of identity and culture". Opponent PhD, Reader Annabelle Mooney (University of Roehampton) and custos Professor Sirpa Leppänen (University of Jyväskylä).

This doctoral thesis looks into the phenomenon of Christian metal from a micro-level perspective on discourse and identity. The central aim is to understand how Christian metal identities are constructed in online discourse through multisemiotic—textual, discursive, visual, and sonic—means. Theoretically, the thesis draws on sociology of language and religion (SLR), sociolinguistic discourse analysis, and media and cultural studies, parts of which are combined into an eclectic framework for present purposes. Previous research on Christian metal is scarce and none has been conducted in the framework provided by these fields. To show the relevance of such study, the present thesis engages in the study of contemporary multisemiotic online realities as meaningful spaces for subcultures and religiosities.

The data consist of 14 Finnish and nine US band websites (15 official band homepages, six Myspace profiles and two Facebook profiles). Of specific interest are the opening (index) sites and 202 song lyrics published on these webpages and/or in the album sleeves. In the four articles comprising the thesis, two index sites and eight lyrics are analysed from the perspective of textual-visual relations, uses of the Bible, dialogicality, and uses of pronouns and binary opposites. A close documentation and description of these key examples form the basis for considering these practices as indexical of more general issues within the Christian metal community, such as identity, subculture, and religiosity.

The results show, first, how the fusion of Christian beliefs and values and the musical and aesthetic conventions of metal music culture happens multisemiotically, with text emphasizing the religious and the visual, and the sonic the subcultural, these forms of semiosis intertwining with each other in specific ways. Second, the Bible is utilized in Christian metal discourse not merely through quotations but through a more encompassing process of entextualization, whereby biblical passages, values, and ideas are reconstituted as Christian metal bands’ own agenda. Third, Christian metal lyrics are shown to prompt belief in and conversion towards God on the one hand and a denunciation of the Devil on the other, as well as explicitness and clarity in the messages of religious authorities. Finally, Christian metal lyrics tend to categorize people into two groups, Us (Christians) and Them (non-Christians), by attributing different epistemological, interpersonal and moral stances to them and by valuing these differently from each other.

Keywords: Christian metal, metal music, Christianity, identity, subculture, sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, sociology of language and religion

The dissertation is published in the series of Jyväskylä Studies in Humanities, number 244, 96 p., Jyväskylä 2015, ISSN: 1459-4323, ISBN: 978-951-39-6090-2. It is available at the University Library’s Publications Unit, tel. +358 40 805 3825,

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