Gabriel Ellis is a Ph.D. candidate in musicology at Stanford University. He writes on aesthetics and affect in popular music and culture.
In his dissertation, Gabriel explores the thematization of numbness, sleep, and narcotic intoxication in musical genres ranging from 1980s shoegaze and dreampop to contemporary trap music and cloud rap. He argues that artists in these genres have developed uniquely refined aesthetic vocabularies for evoking states of “not-feeling,” paradoxically translating experiences of sensory deprivation into the sensual medium of sound. In response, he develops a theory of “anaesthetics”— the aesthetics of anaesthesia—which he offers as a paradigm for analyzing not just popular song and music video but also contemporary film, literature, digital media, and everyday life.
Gabriel’s other areas of interest include critical theory, media studies, post-Marxist aesthetics, and the study of “feelings” of all sorts, including moods, tones, textures, affects, emotions, and vibes.