This Thing Called Life

This Thing Called Life: Prince, Race, Sex, Religion, and Music

by Joseph Vogel

Joseph Vogel is Assistant Professor of English at Merrimack College, USA. He is the author of Man in the Music: The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson (2011) and James Baldwin and the 1980s: Witnessing the Reagan Era (forthcoming 2018). His work has appeared on numerous popular news sites, including The Atlantic, Slate, The Huffington Post, and PopMatters, as well as in many peer-reviewed journals, including the James Baldwin Review, the F. Scott Fitzgerald Review, The Journal of Popular Culture, and the Journal of Popular Music Studies. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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Bloomsbury Academic, 2018
  • DOI:
  • ISBN:
    978-1-5013-3397-2 (hardback)

    978-1-5013-3400-9 (epub)

    978-1-5013-3399-6 (epdf)

    978-1-5013-3401-6 (online)
  • Edition:
    First edition
  • Place of Publication:
    New York
  • Published Online:
This Thing Called Life
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What were Prince’s politics? What did he believe about God? And did he really forsake the subject—sex—that once made him the most subversive superstar of the Reagan era? In this illuminating thematic biography, Joseph Vogel explores the issues that made Prince one of the late 20th century’s most unique, controversial, and fascinating artists.

Since his unexpected death in 2016, Prince has been recognized by peers, critics, and music fans alike. President Barack Obama described him as “one of the most gifted and prolific musicians of our time.” Yet in spite of the influx of attention, much about Prince’s creative life, work, and cultural impact remains thinly examined. This Thing Called Life fills this vacuum, delving deep into seven key topics—politics, sound, race, gender, sex, religion, and death—that allow us to see Prince in fresh, invigorating new ways. Accessible and timely, This Thing Called Life takes the reader on a journey through the catalog and creative revolution of one of America’s most compelling and elusive icons.