Skip to main content

Breaking Kayfabe: Pro Wrestling, Masculine Performativity and the Narrativized Self

Brown, Wes (2022) Breaking Kayfabe: Pro Wrestling, Masculine Performativity and the Narrativized Self. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.96097) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:96097)

Language: English

Restricted to Repository staff only
[thumbnail of 245brown2022phdfull.pdf]
Official URL:


My research focusses on the pro wrestling concept of kayfabe and explores its application in Post-Truth discourses of identity. I argue that this once niche form of the suspension of disbelief based on emotion rather than fact is now crucial to understanding how truth-claims are negotiated in an age of identity politics where populist narratives are increasingly based on alternative facts and virtue- signalling, while identities are determined by performance rather than essence. My creative work narrativizes my experiences as a pro wrestler and functions as a dramaturgical study of pro wrestling, a metafiction of my own identity narrative and reveals the autobiographical pact to be itself a form of kayfabe. In my critical work I situate my research within narrative theories of identity, counter- essentialist identity politics and theories of gender performativity.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Flusfeder, David
Thesis advisor: Sackville, Amy
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.96097
Additional information: The author of this thesis has requested that it be held under closed access. We are sorry but we will not be able to give you access or pass on any requests for access. 05/08/22
Uncontrolled keywords: Masculinity, Pro Wrestling, Autofiction, Working Class
Subjects: P Language and Literature
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council (
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 05 Aug 2022 14:10 UTC
Last Modified: 06 Aug 2022 03:16 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Brown, Wes.

Creator's ORCID:
CReDIT Contributor Roles:
  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.