Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Theatre & Dance

First Advisor

Oliver Gerland

Second Advisor

Bud Coleman

Third Advisor

Beth Osnes


This thesis examines Lady Gaga through the lens of Jeffrey Cohen's monster theory and establishes that she is more than just a pop diva. Pairing Lady Gaga with another cultural icon, the monster, allows for an in depth analysis of her career that supersedes the cacophony of fandom that typically surrounds her. By interrogating a selection of music videos, live performances, and lyrics from her three top grossing albums (The Fame, The Fame Monster, and Born This Way), a clear pattern begins to emerge. Lady Gaga celebrates stigmatized identities by glorying their monstrosity; she transgresses cultural boundaries by reconstructing her body to appear more monstrous, and uses her alluring feminine flesh to attract her viewers. With her pop performance art, her philanthropic proclivities, and her position at the helm of pop culture, Lady Gaga has established herself as a politically progressive artist capable of disrupting a suffocating cultural system.