Emily Thomas

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I really felt incredibly rewarded by the work and the innovations that come with an MA

Rewarding opportunities

Having come from a musicological background, studying Music at The University of Manchester, part of me was apprehensive about the interdisciplinary nature of the MA Music (Audiovisual Cultures) course. After two years of studying, I can certainly say that I didn't need to worry. I received insurmountable support and guidance from our course leader, and managed to pick up skills in Adobe, albeit quite stressfully & slowly! The course's core module was a particular highlight, alongside the final project. I was lucky enough to be offered the opportunity by Holly Rogers to write a chapter that expanded upon some work undertaken in the module. My chapter on Lil Nas X's 'MONTERO' wound up in Bloomsbury Academic's 'YouTube and Music', which I was, and still am, overjoyed about! I found my work was really able to thrive through the non-traditional approaches to sound, visuality and writing. Despite my lack of background in media, this did not end up mattering at all, as I wrote and created work centred upon artists like Charli XCX, Rosalía, Caroline Polachek & Dorian Electra. I am so pleased to have done this course, as I really felt incredibly rewarded by the work and the innovations that come with an MA, alongside the amazing facilities like the Goldsmiths Music Studio.

Studying in New Cross

It's a brilliant place to study – in particular, Deptford & Peckham are great places to explore, filled with beautiful culture(s). Skehans pub is a must, and venues like Avalon Cafe, Venue MOT, Ormside and more are great too.

Life after Goldsmiths

Currently, I am freelancing as a social media and partnerships manager in music, working for companies like Boudica and Velocity Press & doing radio work and tutoring on the side. Alongside this, I am also pursuing a career in music, as a classically trained singer trying to bridge the gap between pop, classical and electronic. The future for me will likely look quite similar to this, as I hope to move into more Project Managerial roles within the music industry that spotlight marginalised cultures. I also think it likely I will end up doing a PhD(!) and continue to write about music, visuality and pop culture in some capacity.

Advice for prospective students

Get involved in anything you could possibly be interested in and focus your efforts on these things in terms of work and external activities.

Video essay

This video essay explores how Lil Nas X’s debut album MONTERO (2021) uses the intertextual, post-media possibilities of new media platforms to produce a daring intervention into the dynamics of gender fluidity and race. Contributing to research on New Queer Cinema (NQC), it critiques B. Ruby Rich’s assertion that NQC’s shift from outsider to mainstream cinema has resulted in the demise of its boundary-pushing elements. Instead, it suggests that with MONTERO, Lil Nas X has collated NQC’s practices across new media platforms to enable new, radical expressions of gender and race to arise. This project considers Lil Nas X’s work through the lens of “quare theory,” a theory coined by E. Patrick Johnson which specifically centres the lived experiences of black LGBTQIA+ people. Following an examination of the theoretical and historical context surrounding Lil Nas X, MONTERO, and NQC, I argue that the theorisations underpinning MONTERO, such as the media swirl, transmedia and remediation amplify the album’s NQC characteristics. I also consider the myriad ways by which Lil Nas X is feeding into a bigger cultural rupture, wherein other mainstream artists are cultivating quare spaces and assimilating NQC’s ideologies into popular culture. The video essay concludes by suggesting Rich’s stance on NQC’s position in the mainstream ought to be reconsidered, due to the exemplary “quare-ing” of the mainstream exhibited in Lil Nas X’s MONTERO.

Read Emily's video essay online