Leeds Beckett University
More-Than-MoshingASensuousExplorationOfWomensParticipationInLeedsExtremeMetalScene-RICHES_Redacted.pdf (9.16 MB)

More-Than-Moshing: a Sensuous Exploration of Women’s Participation in Leeds’ Extreme Metal Scene

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posted on 2022-12-05, 15:07 authored by Gabrielle Riches
Research on extreme metal and moshpit practices has focused, predominantly, on men’s participation and the discursive and symbolic significance of extreme metal music. Furthermore, extreme metal music and its practices have been closely aligned to notions of masculinity. There has been minimal attention paid to women’s participation in moshpit practices and the affective dimensions of doing female fandom. This thesis addresses these empirical gaps within the literature by sensuously exploring the role and significance moshpit practices play in the lives of female metal fans in Leeds’ extreme metal music scene, thus, troubling metal’s relationship with masculinity and the male body. Although the focus is on women’s experiences within a working class, male-dominated music scene, this research also highlights how larger socio-spatial and musical shifts within the scene impacts women’s subcultural visibility and participation. This thesis draws upon non-representational theory (Thrift, 2007), Butler’s (1990) theory of performativity and the feminist framework of intersectionality in order to capture the complexities of women’s corporeal and sensual experiences of moshing and everyday scenic practices. This thesis is based on eighteen months of in-depth ethnographic fieldwork I undertook between February 2012 and August 2013 with female moshers, male and female musicians, and prominent scene members whom I encountered at metal music gigs in Leeds. The research is situated within a sensuous research epistemology, which centralises the role senses play in identity construction and in the ways in which metal music fans come to know the world. My research method, what I term a ‘moshography’, consisted of in-depth, unstructured qualitative interviews, informal conversations, observations and participation in the extreme metal scene. This research offers a unique and original contribution by focusing on the sensual aspects of moshpit participation for women, attending to the affective dimensions of music-making practices and performances in Leeds, and simultaneously synthesising three diverse analytical frameworks which work to capture the ‘more-than-ness’ of subcultural leisure practices. The findings demonstrate the ways in which gender, sexuality, class, and space are performed and embodied within a localised subcultural context. Examining the affective, sensual and embodied dimensions of becoming a metal fan within Leeds’ metal scene illustrates the fragility, multiplicity, fluidity and unpredictability of subcultural subjectivities and encounters. The research findings offer important contributions to the fields of metal music studies, feminist research, cultural geography, popular music, and leisure studies. Overall, the study highlights the ‘more-than-ness’ of subcultural practices as they continually open up spaces for meaningful, and potentially transformative, leisure experiences for women.


Qualification name

  • PhD


Spracklen, Karl ; Lashua, Brett

Awarding Institution

Leeds Beckett University

Completion Date


Qualification level

  • Doctoral


  • eng


Leeds Beckett University

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