Collective Becoming: Participation, Affect, and Religion in Protestant Hymn Singing and Contra Dancing

Date of Award

December 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




M. G. Hamner


Affect, Deleuze, Embodiment, Kristeva, Participation

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities


In this dissertation I explore, articulate, and make the case for an affective, embodied, and non-representational theoretical approach to music in religious practices, with an emphasis on participatory singing and dancing, by drawing on the work of Julia Kristeva, Gilles Deleuze, Thomas Turino, and others. Using this theoretical approach I focus on two “sites” or cases of musical and kinetic practices in the contemporary United States: mainline Protestant hymn singing and contra dancing. I argue that this approach helps us to better understand how these practices function religiously for participants. These practices are of particular interest because of their participatory dimensions and the ways they articulate different relationships between bodies and music and between bodies and other bodies, as compared with the more common presentational modes of engaging in music in mainstream consumer culture. In this respect they facilitate the actualization of counter-hegemonic potentials for religious life and human flourishing.


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