Liberal Arts in Russia EN-rus logo
russian flagRussian
ISSN 2305-8420 (Print)
ISSN 2312-6442 (Online)
Current Issue

“Plastic soul”: the problem of the lyrical subject and the poetic persona within the framework of the album cycle “Young Americans” by D. Bowie

Liberal Arts in Russia. 2022. Vol. 11. No. 1. Pp. 79-88.
Get the full text (Russian)
Tyulin D. A.
Russian State University for the Humanities
6 Miusskaya Square, 125993 Moscow, Russia


Within the framework of this article, the transformation of the poetic persona and the figure of the author in the work of the British poet and musician David Bowie is considered. Bowie’s personas are in interaction with the author’s figure traditionally placed on the periphery of the poet’s performative work. The article deals with the case of the synthesis of the poetic persona and the figure of the author, which took place during the period of Bowie’s work under the name “plastic soul”. Bowie completely changes his creative style, musical style, song themes, and poetic tactics. The article is devoted to the characteristics of the features of this period of the poet’s work. The album “Young Americans” demonstrates a new poetic persona indistinguishable from the figure of the author. Bowie eschews the theatrics of his previous “sci-fi” personas, creating a cold and aloof, utterly normalized pop artist. This literary mask allows the author to speak out on new topics directly related to the American establishment, to criticize superficial concepts of fame, prosperity, beauty, youth, wealth. The features of this Bowie persona are interpreted as part of an interim period between the dystopian “Diamond Dogs” album and the conceptual record “Station to Station”, which develops the concept of the persona as a sinister doppelganger displacing its creator. The author of the article analyzes in detail the text of the title track of the album, which is one of Bowie’s most important social works. Other songs included in the analysis are also expressing a range of issues related to American popular culture. Bowie draws a link between the concept of success and fame and totalitarian ideology, embodying it in his next and final creative persona.


  • • rock poetry
  • • album cycle
  • • poetry cycle
  • • poetic persona
  • • David Bowie
  • • American culture
  • • popular culture


  1. Darvin M. N. Poeticheskii mir liricheskogo tsikla. Avtor i tekst [The poetic world of the lyrical cycle. Author and text]. Moscow: RGGU, 2018.
  2. Domanskii Yu. V. Rok-poeziya. Filologicheskii rakurs [Rock poetry. Philological perspective]. Moscow: Intrada, 2015.
  3. Domanskii Yu. V. Russkaya rok-poeziya: tekst i kontekst. Tver': Intrada, 2010. Pp. 99-123.
  4. Foucault M. Nadzirat' i nakazyvat'. Rozhdenie tyur'my [Discipline and punish. The birth of the prison]. Moscow: Ad Marginem, 2018.
  5. Petrova S. A. Russkaya rok-poeziya: tekst i kontekst. 2020. No. 20. Pp. 80-85.
  6. Shapinskaya E. N. Kul'tura kul'tury. 2017. No. 3. Pp. 1-13.
  7. Bowie at the Cher Show. 1975. URL:
  8. Brooker J. S. Partial Answers: Journal of Literature and the History of Ideas. 2005. Vol. 3. No. 2. Pp. 129-151.
  9. Cinque T. Celebrity Studies. 2021. Vol. 4. No. 3. Pp. 401-404.
  10. D'Adamo A. Enchanting David Bowie: Space/Time/Body/Memory. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015. Pp. 119-152.
  11. Hollinghaus W. Philosophizing rock performance: Dylan, Hendrix, Bowie. Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2013.
  12. O'Connell J. Bowie's bookshelf: The hundred books that changed David Bowie's life. New York: Gallery Books, 2019.
  13. O'Leary C. Rebel Rebel: All the songs of David Bowie from '64 to '76. London: Zero Books, 2015.
  14. Perone J. E. The Words and Music of David Bowie. London: Praeger, 2007. Pp. 55-60.
  15. Perrott L. Continuum. 2017. Vol. 31. No. 4. Pp. 528-541.
  16. Petridis A. The Guardian. 2013. March 17. URL:
  17. Waldrep S. Future nostalgia: Performing David Bowie. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016.
  18. White E. D. Correspondences. 2019. Vol. 7. No. 2. Pp. 367-409.