Date of Award

Spring 5-2-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Departments/Programs

History

First Advisor

Jonathan Rosenberg

Second Advisor

Kevin Sachs

Academic Program Adviser

Jonathan Rosenberg

Abstract

In this thesis , I will examine the history of the electric guitar from it's earliest incarnations in the twentieth century up to the present day. I will argue that more than any other instrument, the electric guitar has achieved a special place in American society, and indeed has become an iconic symbol of American culture. I will further argue that the greatest electric guitarists playing in the genre of rock 'n' roll also achieved special place in American society that their peers playing in other genres did not attain. These rock guitarists were not just considered great musicians; they took on a mythic quality akin to fictional superheroes. Indeed, they came to be called not just great players, but guitar "heroes" or "gods." I will explore why this was so.

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