Singer. Dancer. Movie star. Activist. Queer icon. Afrofuturist. Working class heroine. Time traveler. Prophet. Feminist. Android. Dirty Computer.
Janelle Monáe is all these things and more, making her one of the most fascinating artists to emerge in the twenty-first century. This provocative new study explores how Monáe’s work has connected different media platforms to strengthen and enhance new movements in art, theory, and politics. It considers not only Monáe’s groundbreaking albums The ArchAndroid, The Electric Lady, and Dirty Computer, but also Monáe’s work as an actress in such films as Hidden Figures and Antebellum, as well as her soundtrack appearances in socially-engaged projects ranging from I May Destroy You to Us. Examining Monáe as a cultural icon whose work is profoundly intersectional, this book maps how she is actively reshaping discourses around race, gender, sexuality, and capitalism. Tracing Monáe’s performances of joy, desire, pain, and hope across a wide range of media forms, it shows how she imagines Afrofuturist, posthumanist, and postcapitalist utopias, while remaining grounded in the realities of being a Black woman in a white-dominated industry. This is an exciting introduction to an audacious innovator whose work offers us fresh ways to talk about identity, desire, and power.