Music Gender and Sexuality in Music
by
Emily Wilbourne
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 April 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199757824-0198

Introduction

The field of gender and sexuality studies emerged in the wake of feminist musicology and work on women in music (cf. Women and Music). While frequently deployed in amalgamated form, two distinct if related dimensions of scholarly inquiry are invoked. The term “gender” marks a distinction between a presumed biological sex (male or female) and the systems by which sex differences affect embodied experience (masculinity and femininity). “Gender studies” thus expands feminist methodologies beyond the topic of “women,” incorporating men and masculinity along with trans*, non-fixed, and cross-gendered subject positions. While the term “gender” can indicate a shift away from identity politics and positions, it more frequently represents an attempt at a more inclusive or nuanced set of identities. In contrast, the term “sexuality” calls attention to various modes of desire, particularly the ways in which desires are policed and/or authorized by the dominant power structures of a given society. As such, sexuality studies have been strongly influenced by gay and lesbian studies and queer theory. Importantly, “gender” and “sexuality” are inextricably linked: as Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick makes clear, gender is built into the very definition of the terms “heterosexuality” and “homosexuality.” Gender and sexuality studies are particularly reliant on English-language and specifically North American academic cultures; the bibliography reflects this reliance. The relevance of gender and sexuality for music scholarship emerges in relation to musical meaning or context, whether historical, ethnographic, or analytic. Both “gender” and “sexuality” mark the bodies and the lived experiences of groups and individuals in ways that provide unequal access to cultural, physical, and psychic resources, including but not limited to behavioral norms, education, careers, finances, and political power. Music interacts with each of these fields, and the rich descriptive and analytic dimensions of scholarship into gender and sexuality have proved illuminating to questions such as: Who makes music, and for whom? What kind of music is made? How did music signify, how does it signify now? What was represented? How did (or does) musical performance or consumption respond to or shape social norms? Such questions assume that music is a practice—created, appreciated, and utilized by particularly situated people at specific historical times. Each assumes a benefit from working to understand how music functions within society. Importantly, scholarship on gender and sexuality is often political, not only predicated on an ethical imperative that recognizes the humanity of the scholar, of her readers, and of her music-making subjects, but actively working to untangle or dismantle prejudice and inequality. In recent years, music scholarship on gender and sexuality has become increasingly intersectional, positing both gender and sexuality as axes in a larger context that considers race, ethnicity, class, citizenship, and disability alongside other categorical terms.

Origins

The emergence of scholarly work on gender, sexuality, and music can be dated with precision: a flurry of publications during the early 1990s reflects the impact of conference papers and presentations given during the late 1980s. The early works in the field of gender and sexuality studies were part of the “New Musicology” and of a disciplinary shift toward cultural critique. As such, most made an explicit claim to disciplinary legitimacy.

Foundational Texts of Feminist Musicology

Particular attention has been given here to those works that focus on broader questions of gender and sexuality, rather than those directed at the more limited topic of women and music (cf. Women and Music). A number of the earliest feminist texts focused on opera; see the separate list in Foundational Texts of Opera and Gender or Sexuality. McClary 1991 was widely seen—and widely critiqued—as the originary work of feminist musicology. Cusick 1993a and Cusick 1993b were remarkably influential and remain useful today; Citron 1993 was part of a larger conversation about altering the musical canon—a conversation that has largely faded, leaving only minimal impact on the music that is regularly played and the repertoire that is taught in universities. Drinker 1948 was an outlier which received attention retrospectively as part of a deliberate historicization of feminist music scholarship (see Solie 1993b). Solie’s introduction to the edited collection Musicology and Difference (Solie 1993a) proved definitional, laying theoretical groundwork for an entire generation of scholars. Several works are dated in terms of their specific musical analytic methods, their language, or examples; however, the overarching critiques and motivating questions remain pertinent, since the large-scale structural inequalities that motivated feminist musicology remain entrenched in both music scholarship and the culture at large. The journal Women & Music is a forum with ongoing importance to the field.

  • Citron, Marcia J. Gender and the Musical Canon. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

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    Considers questions of gendered socialization and constructions of genius as a means to understand the exclusion of women from careers in composition and from positions of influence within the musical canon.

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  • Cusick, Suzanne G. “‘Thinking from Women’s Lives’: Francesca Caccini after 1627.” Musical Quarterly 77.3 (1993a): 484–507.

    DOI: 10.1093/mq/77.3.484Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Presents new archival documents on the female composer Francesca Caccini. Articulates a sophisticated critique of the ways in which gendered assumptions warp the supposedly neutral practice of archival work, and the interrogational questions of musicological scholarship writ large.

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  • Cusick, Suzanne G. “Gendering Modern Music: Thoughts on the Monteverdi-Artusi Controversy.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 46 (1993b): 1–25.

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    One of the earliest articles to connect gendered analysis to the rhetoric around musical performance. Particularly influential because of the place of publication, and the topic—addressing the most prestigious composer of the early Baroque.

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  • Drinker, Sophie. Music and Women: The Story of Women in Their Relation to Music. New York: Coward-McCann, 1948.

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    Ambitious trans-historical and trans-cultural account of women throughout music history. While providing some information on specific female composers, Drinker tends toward anthropological analysis of wider cultural trends, thus considering the roles of women as musical performers and cultural or religious figures. Useful background is provided by Solie’s essay on the volume (Solie 1993a).

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  • McClary, Susan. Feminine Endings: Music, Gender and Sexuality. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1991.

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    An important early text. Served as the flagship of feminist musicology and was widely critiqued by unsympathetic scholars. Uses feminist theory to critique canonical works by male composers, as well as less-widely known works by women composers of classical and popular music. Reprinted in 2002.

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  • Solie, Ruth A. “Introduction: On Difference.” In Musicology and Difference: Gender and Sexuality in Music Scholarship. Edited by Ruth A. Solie, 1–20. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993a.

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    Less an introduction to the specific articles that follow than an argument for the relevance of New Musicological work dealing with gender and sexuality. Solie’s formulation of the issues has proved highly influential. The volume as a whole had an enormous impact on the field and is cited under First Generation of Edited Collections.

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  • Solie, Ruth A. “Women’s History and Music History: The Feminist Historiography of Sophie Drinker.” Journal of Women’s History 5.2 (1993b): 8–31.

    DOI: 10.1353/jowh.2010.0261Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Useful exegesis of Drinker’s history, noting both its remarkable achievements and its limitations.

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  • Women & Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture. 1997–.

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    The first and only journal dedicated to the topics of music in relationship to gender and sexuality. Currently edited by Emily Wilbourne, the journal is published annually by the University of Nebraska Press. Since its inception in 1997, the journal has served as a forum for a wide range of cutting-edge research.

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Foundational Texts of Opera and Gender or Sexuality

Opera provides one of the clearest opportunities for the discussion of gender, sexuality, and music, since the genre itself relies on representations of specific characters and the narratives of opera libretti foreground stories of love and desire. Clément 1988 helped initiate the start of feminist musicology, arguing that the female characters of the 19th-century canonical operas were (mis)treated in disturbing, musically inflected ways. Abbate 1993 suggested, in response, that the act of performance and the vocal force of operatic performance in particular allowed the reception context to differ from the bald outlines of plot alone. Koestenbaum 1993 and Morris 1993 delineated a specific community of gay male listeners, documenting their identifications with female operatic voices and with female operatic performers. Blackmer and Smith 1995 performs similar work with regard to lesbian audiences. Henson 1999 is important for the focus on heterosexual listeners and on the specificities of a given historical moment.

  • Abbate, Carolyn. “Opera; or, the Envoicing of Women.” In Musicology and Difference: Gender and Sexuality in Music Scholarship. Edited by Ruth A. Solie, 225–258. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.

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    An important response to Clément 1988. Argues that, in contrast with the narrative deaths of female operatic characters, the act of performance renders female opera singers in particularly live and dramatic ways. Abbate’s argument has been particularly influential on writings about performance and embodiment.

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  • Blackmer, Corinne E., and Patricia Juliana Smith, eds. En travesti: Women, Gender Subversion, Opera. New York: Columbia University Press, 1995.

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    Interdisciplinary collection of articles on lesbian reception histories of operatic trouser roles.

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  • Clément, Catherine. Opera; or, the Undoing of Women. Translated by Betsy Wing. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988.

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    English translation of 1979 French text. Considers the narrative trajectories of canonical Western operas (particularly 19th-century operas) and the frequency with which lead female characters end up dead. Argues that the musical aspects of operatic performance and the laws of tonal closure encourage audience members to desire the death of women characters in a cathartic moment of narrative closure.

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  • Henson, Karen. “Victor Capoul, Marguerite Olagnier’s ‘Le Saïs,’ and the Arousing of Female Desire.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 52.3 (1999): 419–463.

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    An early and important article that takes female heterosexual desire as its subject. Considers the impact and draw of the performer, Victor Capoul.

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  • Koestenbaum, Wayne. The Queen’s Throat: Opera, Homosexuality, and the Mystery of Desire. New York: Poseidon, 1993.

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    A classic text. Highly personal and confessional narrative about gay desire and about gay identification with the operatic diva.

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  • Morris, Mitchell. “Reading as an Opera Queen.” In Musicology and Difference: Gender and Sexuality in Music Scholarship. Edited by Ruth A. Solie, 184–200. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.

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    Puts critical pressure on the act of reception and thus on the definition of the work itself. Describes a specific gay subculture of operatic consumption.

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Foundational Texts of Queer Musicology

The politicized beginnings of lesbian and gay music scholarship are best understood within the polemical reception context of feminist musicology and the New Musicology. Many of the early self-identified investigations into sexuality and music took pains to justify the importance of such work and to mark out a space for the pursuit of such scholarship. The 1994 work Queering the Pitch (cited herein as Brett, et al. 2006) served as a forum for the intellectual legitimization of the “new” field; the most influential contributions to the volume are also itemized separately (Brett 2006, Wood 2006, Cusick 2006). The legitimizing power of this collection was evidenced by an invitation to two of the editors to write an article on “Gay and Lesbian Music” for the New Grove dictionary. Brett and Wood took the invitation as an opportunity for political activism. The resulting article, Brett and Wood 2002, was drastically cut by the New Grove editors and the name altered; the original text was eventually published online, and also appears in the second edition of Queering the Pitch (Brett, et al. 2006). The LGBTQ Study Group of the American Musicological Society (AMS), previously known as the Gay and Lesbian Study Group, has been a major force in the development of queer musicology, sponsoring the Philip Brett Award, as well as panel sessions and study days. Interest groups at the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM) and the Society for Music Theory (SMT) have followed a similar path.

  • Brett, Philip. “Music, Essentialism, and the Closet.” In Queering the Pitch: The New Gay and Lesbian Musicology. Edited by Philip Brett, Elizabeth Wood, and Gary C. Thomas, 9–26. New York: Routledge, 2006.

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    Considers the relationship of labels to identity, focusing on the constructivist and essentialist interpretations of homosexuality and drawing parallels between “homosexuality” and “musicality.” First published 1994.

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  • Brett, Philip, and Elizabeth Wood. “Lesbian and Gay Music.” Edited by Carlos Palombini. Electronic Musicological Review 7 (2002).

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    Full text of the article drafted by Brett and Wood for the New Grove II. The article rearticulates the link between “musicality” and “sexuality” first predicated by Brett in his article “Music, Essentialism, and the Closet,” and focuses on a predominantly 20th-century narrative of queer musical production and consumption. Classical music is included alongside popular musics; a large number of composers and performers are identified as non-heterosexual. A bibliography is included. The article is also available in Portuguese translation on the same site.

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  • Brett, Philip, Elizabeth Wood, and Gary C. Thomas, eds. Queering the Pitch: The New Gay and Lesbian Musicology. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006.

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    A manifesto of the emergent discipline, this volume contains article-versions of many papers that had previously been given in conferences. It captures much of the pioneering spirit of early “gay and lesbian” musicology. The editors stake a claim for the importance of personal involvement and confessional scholarship that has persisted within queer musicological writings. While the volume has been critiqued for the primacy it accords Western art music and white, upper-middle-class perspectives, it remains an important and influential body of work. First published 1994.

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  • Cusick, Suzanne G. “On a Lesbian Relationship with Music: A Serious Effort Not to Think Straight.” In Queering the Pitch: The New Gay and Lesbian Musicology. Edited by Philip Brett, Elizabeth Wood, and Gary C. Thomas, 67–84. New York: Routledge, 2006.

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    Based on a radical feminist definition of “lesbian” that prioritizes the power dynamic between similarly oppressed members of a patriarchal society over specific sexual desires or behaviors, the article thinks through musical listening and musical pedagogy as constitutive interactions, closely associated with identity and subjectivity. First published 1994.

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  • Palombini, Carlos. “Translating and Editing ‘Lesbian and Gay Music’ by Elizabeth Wood and Philip Brett.” Echo 5 (2003).

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    Good summary of the controversies surrounding the commission and publication of the original article; includes a thoughtful evaluation of the full-length piece, isolating the constitutive critical moves made by the authors and the limitations of the format.

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  • Raykoff, Ivan. “Comparative Notes.” GLSG Newsletter: For the Gay & Lesbian Study Group of the American Musicological Society 11.1 (2001): 2.

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    Comparative review of the original and published versions of the New Grove II article on lesbian and gay music (the published version is Brett and Wood 2002). Highlights some of the subtle editorial changes made to those sections that were published in Grove. Download available online.

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  • Whitley, Sheila. Special Issue: Queering the Pitch: Past, Present and Future. GLSG Newsletter: For the Gay & Lesbian Study Group of the American Musicological Society 14.1 (2004).

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    Includes contributions by Sheila Whitley, Karen Pegley, Jennifer Rycenga, Suzanne G. Cusick, Martha Mockus, and Paul Attinello. Discusses the limitations of the volume and celebrates the extent to which the book inspired other practitioners toward queer musical scholarship. Download available online.

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  • Wood, Elizabeth. “Sapphonics.” In Queering the Pitch: The New Gay and Lesbian Musicology. Edited by Philip Brett, Elizabeth Wood, and Gary C. Thomas, 27–66. New York: Routledge, 2006.

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    A sophisticated consideration of the nexus of voice and body, gender and sexuality. Wood focuses on the specifically lesbian erotics of certain forms of music-making and listening in the cultural milieu surrounding Ethel Smyth. First published 1994.

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Queer and Feminist Interventions

Brett 1977 is widely seen as an originary moment of queer musicological writing. Cusick 2000 brought musicology into contact with one of the most influential queer and feminist scholars outside the discipline and renewed the focus on bodies and performance that has remained central to musicological work on gender and sexuality. Tucker 2008 provides a crucial moment of redefinition for queer scholarship in general and also links queer theory to the specificities of jazz history and jazz scholarship.

Edited Collections

During the early years of research into gender and sexuality, there was a limited (though at times vitriolic) backlash against the practitioners of such work; anecdotal evidence suggests that some detractors took advantage of the blind review process to silence queer and feminist perspectives. In this context, edited collections served an important function: guaranteeing a review process that evaluated the value of each piece rather than the premise of gender- and sexuality-based scholarship. In this way, a considerable body of work that had been presented at scholarly conferences was disseminated to a wider audience. Edited collections also facilitated a multiple-perspectives approach to gender and sexuality. Many deliberately integrated ethnomusicological and musicological approaches. The collections here have been organized into three groups, broken down by chronology: each generation of collections shares certain priorities and assumptions about the field of gender and sexuality studies and that of musicology as a whole.

First Generation of Edited Collections

First-generation edited collections on the topic of gender, sexuality, and music date predominantly from the 1990s and share an explicit goal of disseminating material that had begun to find a home in academic conferences. Most volumes are deliberately inclusive of a broad range of topics and approaches. Koskoff 1987 is the earliest work cited here; it offers an important theoretical basis for the assumption—axiomatic in all later work—that gender both shapes and is shaped by music-making practices. Solie 1993 was particularly influential; Cook and Tsou 1994 significantly broadened the range of topics beyond questions of female composition. Dunn and Jones 1994, Blackmer and Smith 1995, and Whiteley 1997 begin to focus on more narrowly defined topics (as becomes typical in later years); these collections, along with Brett, et al. 2006, map out the most productive subareas of the early feminist landscape. Voice, popular music, and sexuality have remained crucial focal points of the field.

  • Blackmer, Corinne E., and Patricia Juliana Smith, eds. En travesti: Women, Gender Subversion, Opera. New York: Columbia University Press, 1995.

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    Interdisciplinary collection; articles discuss lesbian reception histories of operatic trouser roles.

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  • Brett, Philip, Elizabeth Wood, and Gary C. Thomas, eds. Queering the Pitch: The New Gay and Lesbian Musicology. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006.

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    A manifesto of the emergent discipline, this volume contains article-versions of many papers that had previously been given in conferences. It captures much of the pioneering spirit of early “gay and lesbian” musicology. The editors stake a claim for the importance of personal involvement and confessional scholarship that has persisted within queer musicological writings. While the volume has been critiqued for the primacy it accords Western art music and white, upper-middle-class perspectives, it remains as an important and influential body of work. First published 1994.

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  • Cook, Susan C., and Judy S. Tsou, eds. Cecilia Reclaimed: Feminist Perspectives on Gender and Music. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994.

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    An important contribution of this collection is the deliberate inclusion of women in non-compositional roles alongside women who composed music. Several articles address the public/private divide and the consequences for women’s musical participation. Repertoire discussed is primarily Western art music.

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  • Dunn, Leslie C., and Nancy A. Jones, eds. Embodied Voices: Representing Female Vocality in Western Culture. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

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    Voice is understood in a variety of ways throughout the collection: women’s voices as written or narrated by male authors, listening to actual women’s voices in performance, female authorship or performance, and interpretations of maternal voices. A broad range of historical periods and some ethnographic work are represented.

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  • Herndon, Marcia, and Susanne Ziegler, eds. Music, Gender, and Culture. Wilhelmshaven, Germany: Florian Noetzel Verlag, 1990.

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    Reflecting the use of “gender” in the title of this collection, roughly half of the fifteen contributions compare the musical roles of women and men within specific cultures. The remaining essays focus on women’s musical experiences.

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  • Koskoff, Ellen, ed. Women and Music in Cross-Cultural Perspective. New York: Greenwood, 1987.

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    Fifteen essays that push beyond descriptive practice in relation to women’s roles in music-making and aim toward a twofold theory, asking how specific cultures differentiate music by gender, and how musical communities and music-making within specific cultures affect the articulation of gender itself.

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  • Solie, Ruth A., ed. Musicology and Difference: Gender and Sexuality in Music Scholarship. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.

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    Highly influential collection of essays; one of the first to move from “Women in Music” to “Gender and Sexuality in Music.” Since 2007, the American Musicological Society (AMS) has given the Ruth A. Solie award for an edited collection in honor of this book and its impact. Most articles focus on Western music history, although several ethnographic contributions are included. The introduction is cited separately (Solie 1993a, cited under Foundational Texts of Feminist Musicology).

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  • Whiteley, Sheila, ed. Sexing the Groove: Popular Music and Gender. London and New York: Routledge, 1997.

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    Popular music considered in this collection is limited to late-20th-century examples. Masculinity is considered in several articles (particularly in relationship to rock music); other topics include femininity, gender, eroticism, and sexual appeal.

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Second Generation of Edited Collections

The First Generation of Edited Collections (particularly Solie 1993; Brett, et al. 2006) can be understood to have facilitated the emergence of the later, generally more specialized volumes of the second wave; all the works cited here date from the first half of the 2000s. Smart 2000 has proved particularly influential, and gender remains an integral part of opera studies in its current form. Borgerding 2002 and Austern 2002 reflect an increased attention to historical differences in perception and subjectivity.

  • Austern, Linda Phyllis, ed. Music, Sensation, and Sensuality. New York: Routledge, 2002.

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    Important collection of articles dealing specifically with the historicization of bodily sensation in relationship to musical sound. A large number of the contributions deal with early music repertories, though the collection as a whole ranges from the 16th century to the late 20th century, and includes ethnographic work as well as historical/musicological writings.

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  • Bernstein, Jane A., ed. Women’s Voices across Musical Worlds. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2004.

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    Integrates historical and anthropological approaches to music scholarship. Thirteen chapters on a wide range of topics, from medieval music to late-20th-century popular music.

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  • Borgerding, Todd M., ed. Gender, Sexuality, and Early Music. New York: Routledge, 2002.

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    Deals primarily with Italian vocal repertoires, both sacred and secular. Includes articles dealing with masculinity and ethnicity alongside female identity formation, instrumental music, sacred and secular repertoires.

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  • Fuller, Sophie, and Lloyd Whitesell, eds. Queer Episodes in Music and Modern Identity. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2002.

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    Winner of the Philip Brett Award. Broad collection of articles; includes chapters on female friendship, Ravel, lesbian musicians, male impersonators, Tchaikovsky, transcription, Edward J. Dent, Saint-Saëns, Elgar, male friendship, Wagnerian reception, and closeted subjects.

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  • Magrini, Tullia, ed. Music and Gender: Perspectives from the Mediterranean. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.

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    Fourteen essays plus an introduction; most are focused on specific Mediterranean regions, including Albania, Egypt, Corsica, etc., and several treat Roma repertories. The collection treats gender as integral difference and purposefully builds upon the earlier collections.

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  • Moisala, Pirkko, and Beverley Diamond, eds. Music and Gender. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000.

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    The introduction to the volume, “Music and Gender—Negotiating Shifting Worlds” by Diamond and Moisala, underscores the shared crux of the fourteen essays: each looks at gendered musical responses to rapid political, economic, or technological change.

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  • Smart, Mary Ann, ed. Siren Songs: Representations of Gender and Sexuality in Opera. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000.

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    Broad range of articles dealing with canonical operatic repertoire; includes work on masculinity, motherhood, staging the female body, heterosexual and homosexual plotlines.

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Third Generation of Edited Collections

Several recent and forthcoming publications aim specifically at updating the content of the earlier works while maintaining the breadth and format of the edited collection. Peraino and Cusick 2013 is less ambitious, presenting instead a selection of short position papers as part of a printed colloquy. Bloechl, et al. 2015 and Wilbourne 2015 are both, notably, festschrifts, for Solie and Cusick, respectively; Bloechl, et al. 2015 deliberately revisits the content and context of Solie 1993 (cited under First Generation of Edited Collections). Two forthcoming collections—Gregory Barz and William Cheng, eds., Queering the Field: Sounding Out Ethnomusicology, and Fred Maus and Shelia Whiteley, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Queerness and Music, both published by Oxford University Press—share similar priorities of remapping the current field. Other edited works demonstrate the continued flexibility and utility of such collections as a means to tackle complex interdisciplinary topics, notably Feldman and Gordon 2006 and Rustin and Tucker 2008. Jarman-Ivens 2007 demonstrates the increased range of subject positions that the study of gender offers, rather than a concentration explicitly on women.

  • Bloechl, Olivia, Melanie Lowe, and Jeffrey Kallberg, eds. Rethinking Difference in Music Scholarship. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press: 2015.

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    Festschrift for Ruth A. Solie. Articles cover a wide temporal span; focus is almost exclusively on Western art music. A large-scale disciplinary shift toward intersectionality is evident in these articles: many consider race alongside gender and sexuality. Introduction (Bloechl, with Lowe) presents a sustained critique of the use of representation and difference within music scholarship, focuses on the political possibilities of academic labor.

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  • Feldman, Martha, and Bonnie Gordon, eds. The Courtesan’s Arts: Cross-Cultural Perspectives. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

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    Inaugural winner of the Ruth A. Solie Award given by the American Musicological Society. Includes essays on the Edo period and modern Japan, 20th-century Korea, Ming dynasty China, ancient Greece, Early Modern Italy, and India, past and present.

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  • Hayes, Eileen M., and Linda F. Williams, eds. Black Women and Music: More than the Blues. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2007.

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    Includes contributions on black women in the blues of the title, as well as classical music and a wide variety of popular musical forms, including hip-hop and gospel.

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  • Jarman-Ivens, Freya, ed. Oh Boy! Masculinities and Popular Music. New York: Routledge, 2007.

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    Introduction plus twelve essays. Predominantly North American popular music but includes articles on Indonesia and Indigenous Australian popular musics.

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  • Peraino, Judith, and Suzanne G. Cusick, eds. “Colloquy on Musicology and Sexuality.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 66.3 (2013): 825–872.

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    Seven short contributions, an introduction by Peraino and a response by Cusick. Thoughtful, mostly theoretical pieces that provide an excellent snapshot of the state of the field.

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  • Rustin, Nicole T., and Sherrie Tucker, eds. Big Ears: Listening for Gender in Jazz Studies. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008.

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    Includes articles on women performers, on the masculinity of male performers, on race and gender, on gendered hierarchies of performance and reception, as well as gendered representations of jazz in novels and on screen.

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  • Whiteley, Sheila, and Jennifer Rycenga, eds. Queering the Popular Pitch. New York: Routledge, 2006.

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    Written a decade after both the original Queering the Pitch volume and Sexing the Groove (see Brett, et al. 2006 and Whiteley 1997, both cited under First Generation of Edited Collections), the essays in this collection deliberately seek to correct several of the perceived shortcomings of the earlier works. The articles share an awareness of the ways in which gender and sexuality are intersected by race, ethnicity, and citizenship.

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  • Wilbourne, Emily, ed. Special Issue in Honor of Suzanne G. Cusick. Women & Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture 19 (2015).

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    Festschrift in honor of Suzanne G. Cusick. Most of the twenty essays in the collection address issues of gender and sexuality. Contributions include work on historical Italian singers and performers, gendered hiring practices, voice, popular music, sexual and musical violence, and historiographical critiques of musicology, ethnomusicology, and jazz studies. Wilbourne’s introduction to the volume, “On a Lesbian Relationship with Musicology: Suzanne G. Cusick, Sound Effects,” is an exegesis of Cusick’s contributions to feminist and queer musicology.

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Review Essays

Over the relatively short history of music scholarship on topics of gender and sexuality, there have been a disproportionately high number of review essays. The importance of this format to the field demonstrates both a reactionary claim to intellectual legitimacy and an acknowledgement of the inter- and intra-disciplinary challenges facing queer and gender scholars. Gender and sexuality studies have had to build coalitions across frequently balkanized sectors of musical scholarship; students of gender and sexuality must be equally conversant within the geographical, historical, and musical stylistic parameters of a given genre, and with the work of queer and feminist scholars in repertoires vastly different from their own. The list of sources given here is by no means exhaustive. The sources chosen represent particularly influential English-language reviews as well as efforts to disseminate scholarship on gender and sexuality into other languages. Monson 1997 is primarily aimed at ethnomusicological readers and introduces material from the related field of anthropology. Lewis 2009 sums up the field of queer musicology in relation to feminist work. Bowers 2000 has a focus on German-language material. Beghelli 2000 and Daolmi and Senici 2000 were published together and are aimed at Italian readers. Dell’Antonio 2015 looks specifically at Early Modern scholarly work. Review essays are, by nature, dated by their point of publication. Cusick 1999 and Cusick 2001 remain the most cited and influential of those listed here; both analyze the ways in which scholarship on gender and sexuality has shaped musicological thought and offer questions about the future of the field.

  • Beghelli, Marco. “Erotismo canoro.” Il Saggiatore Musicale 7 (2000): 123–136.

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    First of a pair of “interventi” intended to summarize the effects of gender and sexuality studies on voice scholarship and opera in particular. Presents material predominantly available in English-language sources for an Italian readership. See also Daolmi and Senici 2000.

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  • Bowers, Jane. “The Development of Gender Studies in American Musicology: A View from 2000.” In Frauen- und Männerbilder in der Musik: Festschrift für Eva Rieger zum 60. Geburtstag. Edited by Freia Hoffmann, Jane Bowers, and Ruth Heckmann, 21–25. Oldenberg, Germany: Bibliotheks- und Informationssystem der Universität Oldenberg, 2000.

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    Because this essay appears in a festschrift it has a particular focus on Eva Rieger’s work; as a consequence, it looks at the relationship between German-language and English-language scholarship in some detail.

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  • Cusick, Suzanne G. “Gender, Musicology, and Feminism.” In Rethinking Music. Edited by Nick Cook and Mark Everist, 471–498. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.

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    Widely cited and influential article. Argues that the scholars responsible for the founding of musicology in North America actively worked to gender the field masculine, excluding women and connotations of music as women’s work. Cusick presents feminist musicology as a corrective to the violence of presumed objectivity. She calls for multiple scholarly perspectives as a means to render musicology more palatable and to reconfigure the scholarly understanding of music as a practice embedded in the lives of scholars and their subjects alike.

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  • Cusick, Suzanne G. “Eve . . . Blowing in Our Ears? Toward a History of Music Scholarship on Women in the Twentieth Century.” Women & Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture 5 (2001): 140–145.

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    Edited text based on an earlier talk. Cusick analyzes a distinction between scholarship on “women and music” from the 1970s and 80s, and that on “gender and sexuality” from the 1990s.

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  • Daolmi, Davide, and Emanuele Senici. “‘L’omosessualità è un modo di cantare’: Il contribuito queer all’indagine sull’opera in musica.” Il Saggiatore Musicale 7 (2000): 137–178.

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    Second of a pair of “interventi” intended to summarize the effects of gender and sexuality studies on voice scholarship and opera in particular. Presents material predominantly available in English-language sources for an Italian readership. See also Beghelli 2000.

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  • Dell’Antonio, Andrew. “Performances of Identity in Early Modern Italian Music.” I Tatti: Studies in the Italian Renaissance 18.1 (2015): 23–31.

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    Focuses on thought-provoking scholarship of the decade 2005–2015. Most sources discussed consider gender to a large degree.

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  • Lewis, Rachel. “What’s Queer about Musicology Now?” Women & Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture 13 (2009): 43–53.

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    Introduction to the three queer-themed articles that follow, all drawn from “Queer Vibrations,” an interdisciplinary graduate student conference held at Cornell University in March 2007. Situates the field of queer musicology in relationship to feminist musicology and definitional debates within queer theory at large, with a particular focus on transnational theory and on the voice.

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  • Monson, Ingrid. “Music and the Anthropology of Gender and Cultural Identity.” Women & Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture 1 (1997): 24–32.

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    Summarizes the then-current state of anthropological research, mapping out four categories of scholarship. Calls for a greater engagement with gender and with the consequences of gendered differences.

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Bibliographies

In a complementary fashion to the Review Essays, bibliographies in gender and sexuality studies have served to disseminate work and critical approaches across the temporal and repertoire-based boundaries of traditional musicological scholarship. Online formats have proved the most useful, as they can be regularly updated; however, most of the sources listed here depend on pro bono work and do not follow a regular updating schedule. Wilbourne 2006 updates the New Grove–style list originally appended to Brett and Wood 2002 (cited under Foundational Texts of Queer Musicology), but is not currently slated for further updates. Interest groups associated with the American Musicological Society (AMS) and the Society for Music Theory (SMT) maintain bibliographies updated by their members, see Cumulative LBTGQ Music Bibliography and Sayrs and VanHandel 2002. While search engines such as RILM increasingly list gender and sexuality as search terms, the more targeted approach of dedicated bibliographies provides a more useful resource for early-career scholars and graduate students. Pendle and Boyd 2010 includes annotations.

  • Cumulative LBTGQ Music Bibliography. Compiled and updated by Jacob Sagrans, Keith Wace, and Lloyd Whitesell. LBTGQ Study Group of the American Musicological Society.

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    Formatted alphabetically, no annotations. Updated at regular intervals (approximately every two years). Aims at a comprehensive list. The bibliography indexes music scholarship that features material on gender diversity, queer identity, culture, knowledge, or practice, or that approaches its topic from a queer, transgender, or anti-oppressive perspective.

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  • Pendle, Karin, and Melinda Boyd. Women in Music: A Research and Information Guide. 2d ed. New York: Routledge, 2010.

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    Over 3000 citations and annotations. Includes entries on sexuality and on work about gender. Citations are arranged by topic.

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  • Sayrs, Elizabeth, and Leigh VanHandel. “Bibliography of Sources Related to Women’s Studies, Gender Studies, Feminism, and Music.” 2002. Website of the Committee on the Status of Women of the Society for Music Theory.

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    Last updated 2002. One of the best resources for musical theoretical sources and analytic references. Extensive list arranged into various categories, including “Feminist Theories and/of Music,” “Music Theory and Feminist Theory,” “Feminist Music Pedagogy,” etc.

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  • Wilbourne, Emily. “Updated Bibliography for ‘Lesbian and Gay Music,’ by Elizabeth Wood and Philip Brett.” In Queering the Pitch: The New Gay and Lesbian Musicology. 2d ed. Edited by Philip Brett, Elizabeth Wood, and Gary C. Thomas, 379–389. New York: Routledge, 2006.

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    Extends and updates the bibliography provided by Wood and Brett to their original New Grove II article which is reprinted in the second edition of Queering the Pitch. The bibliography is arranged chronologically (then alphabetically within each year). Selective bibliography intended to show the development and expansion of the field. No annotations.

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Biographical Approaches to Lesbian, Gay, and Queer Musicians

There exists a broad range of writing about specific composers and performers with non-conforming sexualities. Such literature provides a strong parallel with women’s studies and with the focus of some scholars on female composers and performers. The issues, however, are not strictly comparable. Most female musicians are visibly and undeniably female, whereas sexuality is more difficult to discern and often hotly contested; this issue is discussed in Tucker 2002. Brett was arguably the first scholar to discuss a composer’s sexuality as bearing upon their music; his articles on Britten were anthologized posthumously (Brett 2006). Solomon 1989 sparked a polemical reaction leading to an entire special issue of 19th Century Music (see Schubert: Music, Sexuality, Culture). Thomas 2006 explores the historiographical implications of questioning a composer’s sexuality. Griffin 2002, Hubbs 2004, and Mockus 2008 present original models of biographical writing grounded in the non-normative sexualities of their subjects.

  • Brett, Philip. Music and Sexuality in Britten: Selected Essays. Edited by George E. Haggerty. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006.

    DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520246096.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Winner of the Philip Brett Award. Includes an introduction by Susan McClary and an afterword by Jenny Doctor. Posthumous publication that collates essays written over the span of Brett’s life.

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  • Griffin, Farah Jasmine. In Search of Billie Holiday: If You Can’t Be Free, Be a Mystery. New York: Ballantine, 2002.

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    Deliberately eschews traditional biographical models. Focuses on the myths and stories that surrounded Holiday, contrasting them with those facts that can be discerned, in order to consider what Holliday and her music meant to her listeners.

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  • Hubbs, Nadine. The Queer Composition of America’s Sound: Gay Modernists, American Music, and National Identity. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.

    DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520241848.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Winner of the Philip Brett Award. A biographical account of a Manhattan-based group of gay male composers, including Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson, Leonard Bernstein, Marc Blitzstein, Paul Bowles, David Diamond, and Ned Rorem. Considers how the music of these men became associated with a distinctively and widely celebrated “American” sound, despite their sexuality.

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  • Mockus, Martha. Sounding Out: Pauline Oliveros and Lesbian Musicality. New York: Routledge, 2008.

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    Situates Oliveros within a network of women, including feminist activists, artists, writers, and other musicians. Drawing on musical works, archival documents (including letters), and interviews, Mockus offers a radically original biographical model that pushes against traditional narratives of exceptional women.

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  • Solomon, Maynard. “Franz Schubert and the Peacocks of Benvenuto Cellini.” 19th Century Music 12.3 (1989): 193–206.

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    Interprets cryptic comments about Schubert found in contemporary documents as evidence of homosexual behavior. Article provoked a notable outcry; see responses in the special issue Schubert: Music, Sexuality, Culture.

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  • Special Issue: Schubert: Music, Sexuality, Culture. Edited by Lawrence Kramer. 19th Century Music 17.1 (1993).

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    Large-scale response to Solomon 1989. Includes articles from Rita Steblin, Maybard Solomon, Kristina Muxfeldt, and David Gramit; and commentary from Kofi Agawu, Susan McClary, James Webster, and Robert S. Winter. Taken together these articles represent the frankest discussion of why the sexuality of historical composers could be considered necessary (on the one hand) and problematic (on the other). See also Brett 1997 (cited under Nineteenth-Century Music) for an assessment of the contributions to this special issue.

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  • Thomas, Gary C. “Was George Frideric Handel Gay? On Closet Questions and Cultural Politics.” In Queering the Pitch: The New Gay and Lesbian Musicology. Edited by Philip Brett, Elizabeth Wood, and Gary C. Thomas, 155–204. New York: Routledge, 2006.

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    Considers the biographical and contextual evidence about Handel’s sexuality alongside the historiographical tradition of writing on Handel. Sophisticated and nuanced articulation of what is at stake in questions about the sexuality of historical figures and of the importance of such questions for music scholarship. First published 1994.

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  • Tucker, Sherrie. “When Subjects Don’t Come Out.” In Queer Episodes in Music and Modern Identity. Edited by Sophie Fuller and Lloyd Whitesell, 293–310. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2002.

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    Discusses instances from her own field work in which informants denied lesbian aspects of their own behavior and those of other women. Suggests some approaches that can be taken in such circumstances.

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Gender and Sexuality in Music Theory

The sub-discipline of music theory is typically understood to focus on the notes and internal workings of a piece, with less attention paid to the historical context or hermeneutic content of the music in question. As a consequence, many music theorists have regarded scholarship on music and gender as extrinsic to their work. It is, however, only the most heavily analytic of music theoretical writings that function without regard to the implications of historical style and thus of context more broadly, and a large proportion of recent work in musical theoretical sub-disciplines relies heavily on the contextual historicism of the New Musicology. During the early years of feminist and queer scholarship in music, several authors called for an awareness of the ways in which gender and sexuality shaped the very tenets of the genre of music theory. The journal Perspectives of New Music provided a particularly welcoming forum, and both issues of volume 32 (1994) included material collated together under the topic of feminist music theory. Maus 1993 and Guck 1994 provided an important critique of the supposedly neutral language of academic writing and music theory in particular. Hisama 2001 and Le Guin 2006 provide models of how a reimagined music theory might look. Leach 2006 and Fuller 2011 are concerned with music theorists of the 14th century, offering highly divergent interpretations of the same body of written material.

  • Cusick, Suzanne G. “Feminist Theory, Music Theory, and the Mind-Body Problem.” Perspectives of New Music 32.1 (1994): 8–27.

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    Addresses the difficulties of writing about the body, drawing on theory from Joan Scott and Judith Butler. Includes examples from Fanny Hensel’s Trio in D minor, op. 11, and J. S. Bach’s Clavierübung, Part III, BWV 686.

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  • Fuller, Sarah. “Concerning Gendered Discourse in Medieval Music Theory: Was the Semitone ‘Gendered Feminine’?” Music Theory Spectrum 33.1 (2011): 65–89.

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    Response to Leach 2006, contesting the claims of the earlier article. Contends that the substantial majority of 14th-century music theorists used gender-neutral language to describe intervals smaller than a tone. Calls for care in interpreting the attitudes of historically distant writers.

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  • Guck, Marion A. “A Woman’s (Theoretical) Work.” Perspectives of New Music 32.1 (1994): 28–43.

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    Considers her own efforts in developing evocative language to describe musical effects as feminized in relationship to the more analytic vocabularies of traditional music theory. Explores essentialist versus constructivist definitions of femininity.

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  • Guck, Marion A. “Music Loving, Or the Relationship with the Musical Work.” Music Theory Online 2.2 (1996).

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    Considers the way in which a love of music is disavowed by most music scholars, both within musicology and within music theory.

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  • Hisama, Ellie M. “Feminist Music Theory into the Millennium: A Personal History.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 25.4 (2000): 1287–1291.

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    Traces the author’s exposure to feminist scholarship within the sub-discipline of music theory, outlines some of the ways in which feminist theory has impacted her analytic methods, and provides an example of how feminist theory can impact pedagogical practice with a description of how she has discussed music by John Zorn within her classes.

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  • Hisama, Ellie M. Gendering Musical Modernism: The Music of Ruth Crawford, Marion Bauer, and Miriam Gideon. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

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    Analyzes six works by three women composers, attending to the ways in which the music might reflect the gender of the composers.

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  • Kielian-Gilbert, Marianne. “Of Poetics and Poesis, Pleasure and Politics: Music Theory and Modes of the Feminine.” Perspectives of New Music 32.1 (1994): 44–67.

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    Nuanced consideration of identity politics in relationship to feminist music theory and, in particular, of the liberating, utopic possibilities that it offered to many female theorists.

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  • Leach, Elizabeth Eva. “Gendering the Semitone, Sexing the Leading Tone: Fourteenth-Century Music Theory and the Directed Progression.” Music Theory Spectrum 28.1 (2006): 1–21.

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    Controversial reading of gendered language in the music theoretical writings of Marchetto of Padua and Johannes Boen. Suggests the 14th century as the origin of pervasive musical associations between chromaticism and an exotic, Eastern femininity.

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  • Le Guin, Elisabeth. Boccherini’s Body: An Essay in Carnal Musicology. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006.

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    Though broadly musicological rather than theoretical, Le Guin’s analyses provide the most explicit application to date of feminist theory to analysis. Le Guin analyzes Boccherini’s music from the perspective of a performer, and from the perspective of an ensemble. As such her work considers the music as a practice embodied within and by specifically situated, and thus gendered, individuals.

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  • Maus, Fred Everett. “Masculine Discourse and Music Theory.” Perspectives of New Music 31 (1993): 263–293.

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    Argues that the analytic terms deployed by music theorists are gendered, examining pairs of words and noting how one word of each pair is valorized in ways consistent with characterizations of masculinity. Suggests that the attentive listening of music theorists is itself gendered feminine and that the objective vocabularies developed by theorists may exist to conceal the originary femininity of the field.

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Gender and Sexuality in Ethnomusicology

The topic of women and music was an established part of ethnomusicology well before the reactionary beginnings of feminist musicology, though most work was limited to specific feminized genres (such as lament), and there was little overt theorization about the consequences of gendered musical differences.

Ethnographic Approaches to Gender and Sexuality

Nettl 1983 questioned why the large numbers of female ethnomusicologists hadn’t yet had much impact on the disciplinary theorization of gender. Herndon 1990 provided an important and articulate definition of gender in terms of culture and biology. Sugarman 1997 is a widely cited model of feminist ethnography that looks beyond merely women and their participation. Koskoff 2014 collates a range of material from throughout the author’s career, including some of the most influential early feminist work and her later reflections on the topic. Wong 2015 calls for a greater and more explicit ethnomusicological engagement with the erotics of musical performance and with the understanding of sexuality as culturally constructed.

  • Herndon, Marcia. “Biology and Culture: Music, Gender, Power, and Ambiguity.” In Music, Gender, and Culture. Edited by Marcia Herndon and Susanne Ziegler, 11–26. Wilhelmshaven, Germany: Florian Noetzel Verlag, 1990.

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    A touchstone in ethnomusicological writings and widely considered as one of the first articles to focus on “gender” instead of “sex.” The discussion is structured around the music of the Cherokee Indians, and considers how biology and culture interact in order to naturalize specific behaviors and choices.

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  • Koskoff, Ellen. A Feminist Ethnomusicology: Writings on Music and Gender. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2014.

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    Includes a foreword by Suzanne G. Cusick and an extensive bibliography on the topic of music and gender provided by the author. A retrospective collation of Koskoff’s many articles, from the mid 1970s up to 2010, as well as new work outlining the changes and developments in Koskoff’s own thinking and the discipline at large.

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  • Nettl, Bruno. “Vive la différence.” In The Study of Ethnomusicology: Twenty-Nine Issues and Concepts. By Bruno Nettl, 333–345. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1983.

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    Looks at the ways in which gender affects the musical lives of various cultures. Directly asks the question as to whether the work of female ethnomusicologists has been different in kind than that of male ethnomusicologists.

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  • Sugarman, Jane C. Engendering Song: Singing and Subjectivity at Prespa Albanian Weddings. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997.

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    Excellent account of the ways in which the music of Prespa weddings in both Macedonia and the diaspora map across gender as they define and renegotiate the dynamics of interaction between participants.

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  • Wong, Deborah. “Ethnomusicology without Erotics.” Women & Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture 19 (2015): 178–185.

    DOI: 10.1353/wam.2015.0014Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that ethnomusicologists have been largely silent about erotics and scholarship, in part because their interlocutors rarely talk about music in such terms, and in part because sexuality studies so frequently deal with Western terms and repertoires. Ends with a manifesto calling for ethnomusicologists to engage with sound and sexuality.

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Participant Observation, Gender, and Sexuality

The role and identity of participant observers have proved an ongoing issue for feminist ethnomusicology. Killick 1995, Babiracki 1997, and Hankins 2014 all address the issue from a variety of perspectives. Kisliuk 1998 has been particularly influential in modeling an engaged and self-aware narrative stance.

  • Babiracki, Carol. “What’s the Difference? Reflections on Gender and Research in Village India.” In Shadows in the Field: New Perspectives for Fieldwork in Ethnomusicology. Edited by Gregory F. Barz and Timothy J. Cooley, 121–136. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

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    Discusses a romantic relationship in the field between scholar and research subject, exploring in frank terms the way in which such intimacies impacted her work.

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  • Hankins, Sarah. “Queer Relationships with Music and an Experiential Hermeneutics for Musical Meaning.” Women & Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture 18 (2014): 83–104.

    DOI: 10.1353/wam.2014.0004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Thoughtful consideration of the erotic experience of the participant observer within ethnographies of queer communities; in particular the tip exchange at queer cabaret performances. Extends Cusick 2006 (cited under Foundational Texts of Queer Musicology).

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  • Killick, Andrew P. “The Penetrating Intellect: On Being White, Straight, and Male in Korea.” In Taboo: Sex, Identity and Erotic Subjectivity in Anthropological Fieldwork. Edited by Don Kulick and Margaret Willson, 76–106. London: Routledge, 1995.

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    Reflects on the consequences of the author’s sex, race, and nationality during his own field work, and discusses the ways in which his subject position as participant observer is affected by his subject position as a straight, white man.

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  • Kisliuk, Michelle. Seize the Dance: BaAka Musical Life and the Ethnography of Performance. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

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    Based on over a decade of participant ethnography in the Lobaye region of the Central African Republic, this book is both a detailed description of the music-making and associated social practices of the BaAka and an in-depth consideration of the role of the scholar.

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Race in Relation to Gender and Sexuality

The field of gender and sexuality studies has become increasingly intersectional, as scholars negotiate the complex terrain of identity politics. Within studies of popular music and ethnomusicology the intersection of race with the axes of gender and sexuality has needed little justification; in contrast, the point has had to be made rather forcibly in relationship to Western classical repertoires. Interested readers should consult the works listed under Edited Collections and Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century Popular Music in addition to those listed here.

Blackness in Relation to Gender and Sexuality

In North American scholarship, blackness is the most heavily theorized racial difference, and the extant literature reflects this disciplinary formation. Grier 2002 is a sophisticated look at the larger cultural associations of race in relationship to popular musical repertoires. Brown 2008 is an excellent example of race-attentive history. Gordon 2015 integrates the discussion of race and slavery with reference to specific Western musical examples. Guillory 1998 was an influential text that looks at the impact of gender and sexuality on male jazz performers. Hayes and Williams 2007 collects a range of approaches to writing about black women and musical performance. Gaunt 2006 deftly weaves the study of specific cultural behaviors (children’s games) and musical repertoires.

Hispanic and Asian Identities in Relation to Gender and Sexuality

Grouped together for convenience and to make the point that neither category is as well populated as that of blackness and music. Both Hisama 1993 and Tsou 2015 look at representations of Asian women in music written by white men. Aparicio 1998 and Hahn 2007 are interested in the ways that bodies learn to dance and what dance teaches bodies. Tongson 2011 and Rivera-Servera 2012 consider identities in relationship to specific musical and performed behaviors.

  • Aparicio, Frances. Listening to Salsa: Gender, Latin Popular Music and Puerto Rican Cultures. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1998.

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    Shows how the embodied memories of dancing to popular music can sustain gendered subjectivities (both masculine and feminine) long after the social conditions that fostered them might have changed.

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  • Hahn, Tomie. Sensational Knowledge: Embodying Culture through Japanese Dance. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2007.

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    Winner of the Merriam Prize. Considers the practice of somatic transmission as mediated through culture, with a focus on the pedagogical practices of the traditional Japanese dance, nihon buyo. A personal and experimental text, the book looks at how the senses construct our sense of self and how the senses themselves have particular cultural valences.

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  • Hisama, Ellie M. “Postcolonialism on the Make: The Music of John Mellencamp, David Bowie and John Zorn.” Popular Music 12.2 (1993): 91–104.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0261143000005493Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Considers pop songs sung by white men about desirable Asian women, from the perspective of a female Asian listener.

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  • Rivera-Servera, Ramón H. Performing Queer Latinidad: Dance, Sexuality, Politics. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2012.

    DOI: 10.3998/mpub.2395967Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An ethnographic, performance studies text. Considers both modern dance and nightclub dance within specific Latina/o neighborhoods in the United States.

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  • Tongson, Karen. Relocations: Queer Suburban Imaginaries. New York: New York University, 2011.

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    Considers Asian American identity in suburban settings and the relationship to voice and performance, particularly karaoke.

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  • Tsou, Judy. “Composing Racial Difference in Madama Butterfly: Tonal Language and the Power of Cio-Cio-San.” In Rethinking Difference in Music Scholarship. Edited by Olivia Bloechl, Melanie Lowe, and Jeffrey Kallberg, 214–237. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139208451.007Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Contrasts the musical characterizations of Cio-Cio-San and Pinkerton, noting a sharp distinction between the two. Though the international characteristics given to Cio-Cio-San are broadly foreign rather than specifically Asian, the author traces a musical mapping that Others the Asian woman of the story.

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Whiteness in Relation to Gender and Sexuality

Whiteness has been undertheorized in music scholarship in general, and only recently has work on the topic of whiteness achieved any real traction. Much of the scholarship that has been produced focuses on popular music repertoires, particularly those where black musical forms have become the norm; much less work deals with whiteness and Western art music. Bannister 2006 and Stras and Scott 2010 reflect the preoccupation with popular musics. Bloechl 2015 is an impassioned plea for scholars of Western art music to pay attention to race and to colonialism. Marshall 2015 looks at how whiteness can operate as the seemingly neutral ground against which other aspects are judged.

Historicized Models of Gender and Desire

Studies in gender and sexuality have placed pressure on naturalized concepts of desire and bodily difference and thus on more obviously musical tropes of embodiment, subjectivity, sensation, gendered representation, expressive content, and aesthetic priorities. The recognition of gender and sexuality as culturally and historically contingent constructs helpfully destabilizes the expressive means of past works and musicians, as it enables a critique of modern music and musical reception.

Early Music

Several key figures in the first wave of feminist and queer musicology were specialists in early music (Brett, Cusick, McClary; see also work by these scholars cited in other categories). Work on early music history has thus provided a large impetus to feminist and queer music scholarship from other periods. Cusick 1993b (cited under Foundational Texts of Feminist Musicology) was one of the earliest articles to connect gendered analysis to the rhetoric around musical performance, and was widely read not least because of the place of publication. Macy 1996 addressed one of the taboo subjects of early music with historically informed precision. Borgerding 2002 (cited under Second Generation of Edited Collections) demonstrates the breadth and the disciplinary priorities of the early music gender and sexuality subfield during the second wave of feminist and queer scholarly work, as does the rash of other publications cited here from the early years of the new millennium: most deal with Italian repertory in a highly sophisticated manner. Holsinger 2002 and Gordon 2004 provide important introductions to the different epistemological models of gender and sexuality during the medieval and baroque periods, respectively. Freitas 2003 proposed a completely original and highly influential perspective on castrati and on historicized desire. Cusick 2009 on Francesca Caccini presents a thoroughly feminist revision of biographical practice, tracing gender through the life of the composer herself, through the courtly milieu in which she worked, and through the performance (and rehearsal) context of the music that Caccini wrote. Wilbourne 2009 considers the sounds of performance and the valence of contemporary metaphors connecting sex and sound.

  • Cusick, Suzanne G. Francesca Caccini at the Medici Court: Music and the Circulation of Power. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.

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    Monumental “life and works” account of the composer, Francesca Caccini, that considers the impact of gender on all aspects of the subject. Provides a fundamentally new model for thinking about musical biography.

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  • Freitas, Roger. “The Eroticism of Emasculation: Confronting the Baroque Body of the Castrato.” The Journal of Musicology 20.2 (2003): 196–249.

    DOI: 10.1525/jm.2003.20.2.196Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Sophisticated and convincing reconsideration of the castrato within historical context. Argues for the erotic valence of the adolescent boy and outlines how the castrato was understood to preserve the state of being on the cusp of manhood. A later version, more closely tailored to the discussion of a specific castrato and omitting the comparative work of this article is found in his Portrait of a Castrato: Politics, Patronage, and Music in the Life of Atto Melani (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009); this book was the recipient of the Philip Brett Award.

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  • Gordon, Bonnie. Monteverdi’s Unruly Women: The Power of Song in Early Modern Italy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

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    Reads Early Modern Italian sonic practice against the contemporary scientific literature of embodiment and sexuality. Most cited for the application of “one sex” models to music. The “women” of the title are characters and representations of women in Claudio Monteverdi’s vocal music, predominantly the madrigal and chamber repertory.

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  • Heller, Wendy. Emblems of Eloquence: Opera and Women’s Voices in Seventeenth-Century Venice. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.

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    Considers Venetian representations of women on the 17th-century operatic stage. Women are considered as a gendered representation of the civic figure of the city of Venice. Detailed analysis of the libretti and of the changes made by poet and composer are used to track the specific motivations of the works’ creators.

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  • Holsinger, Bruce. Music, Body, and Desire in Medieval Culture: Hildegard of Bingen to Chaucer. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2002.

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    Important work considering the differently historicized ways in which desire and the body were understood during the medieval period.

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  • Macy, Laura. “Speaking of Sex: Metaphor and Performance in the Italian Madrigal.” Journal of Musicology 14.1 (1996): 1–34.

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    Situates the amateur performance practice of the Italian madrigal within a context of learned conversation and courtly behavioral norms. Frankly addresses the sexual content of madrigal texts in terms of contemporary conceptions of the body and of sexuality; looks at the ways in which musical representations of desire changed over the course of the 16th century.

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  • McClary, Susan. Desire and Pleasure in Seventeenth-Century Music. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012.

    DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520247345.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A sustained look at “the music itself” as a coherent expressive language. Utilizes a modal framework alongside analytic attention to the development of tonality in an attempt to account for the music of the period in its own terms.

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  • Wilbourne, Emily. “Amor nello specchio (1622): Mirroring, Masturbation, and Same-Sex Love.” Women & Music 13 (2009): 54–65.

    DOI: 10.1353/wam.0.0027Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Winner of the Philip Brett Award. Focusing on a commedia dell’arte play text, this article traces the use of musical metaphors and dramatic representation across a variety of sexual practices.

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Castrati

During the 17th and 18th centuries, large numbers of boys underwent castration before puberty as a means to preserve their high voices. The direct conflation of surgical intervention, altered development of secondary sex characteristics, and musical performance has made castrati a particularly fecund site of work on gender and sexuality. Much of the musicological literature on castrati has been strongly influenced by Roland Barthes’ S/Z, in which the castrato’s voice is seen as a sexually charged compensation for a lack of genitals. Poizat 1992, Dame 2006, and Bergeron 1996 shaped the initial dimensions of the field; all draw heavily upon Barthes. Freitas 2009 offers a welcome corrective, grounding his discussion of castrati in a historically relevant context. Feldman 2015 treats both theoretical and pragmatic considerations in an attempt to answer the question of why castration was so common.

  • Beghelli, Marco, and Raffaele Talmelli. Ermafrodite armoniche. Varese, Italy: Zecchini Editore, 2011.

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    The book as a whole argues that the sounds of castrati voices can be traced through recordings of their non-castrated students. Includes a chapter on Lily Dan, a transsexual who was designated male at birth, but who coincidentally possessed a rare chromosomal abnormality that interrupted the male-patterned development of her vocal chords that would otherwise have taken place during puberty. Book includes a CD with rare recordings of historical singers, including Lily Dan.

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  • Bergeron, Katherine. “The Castrato as History.” Cambridge Opera Journal 8.2 (1996): 167–184.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0954586700004675Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In large part a review of the 1994 film, Farinelli, the article considers the interplay of voice and sexuality as represented by the castrato. Engages with Roland Barthe’s S/Z.

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  • Dame, Joke. “Unveiled Voices: Sexual Difference and the Castrato.” In Queering the Pitch: The New Gay and Lesbian Musicology. Edited by Philip Brett, Elizabeth Wood, and Gary C. Thomas, 139–154. New York: Routledge, 2006.

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    Considers the castrato and castrato roles in opera from the perspective of a modern-day lesbian listener who enjoys performances in which women substitute in travesty, seeing and hearing them as representations of lesbian desire on the operatic stage. First published 1994.

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  • Feldman, Martha. The Castrato: Reflections on Natures and Kinds. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2015.

    DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520279490.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Considers the cultural meanings of castration within the Italian Early Modern context as well as the pragmatic effects of the practice. Particularly useful for the central section on voice, which provides a rich reconstruction of what can be known about the sound of castrati voices.

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  • Freitas, Roger. Portrait of a Castrato: Politics, Patronage, and Music in the Life of Atto Melani. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

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    Develops material presented in his dissertation and in his 2003 article (Freitas 2003, cited under Early Music). An extended case study of the castrato Atto Melani, one of the best-documented musicians of his era, as representative of the possibilities and opportunities that were available for castrati during the 17th century.

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  • Gilman, Todd S. “The Italian (Castrato) in London.” In The Work of Opera: Genre, Nationhood, and Sexual Difference. Edited by Richard Dellamora and Daniel Fischlin, 49–70. New York: Columbia, 1997.

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    Focuses on the reception of Italian castrato singers in London during the early 18th century. Argues that British listeners were intrigued by the sexualized implications of castrato song and traces positive and negative readings that circulated among British critics.

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  • Poizat, Michel. Beyond the Pleasure Principle in Opera. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992.

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    Lacanian reading of the voice. Views the act of castration as an intervention that transfers the sexually productive power of the phallus into the vocal organ.

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Eighteenth-Century Music

Eighteenth-century music scholarship has yet to develop the kind of consolidated approach to gender and sexuality that is typical of early music scholarship and that on 17th-century Italy in particular. Harris 2001 is important for the discussions of private versus public music-making, and as evidence of the relevance of sexuality scholarship among the discipline as a whole. Le Guin 2006 is valuable as a methodological resource and theoretical model beyond the time period and the specific composer/performer who stands as its subject. Brown-Montesano 2007 is emblematic of gender scholarship based in characterization; there are parallels to Heller 2003 (cited under Early Music).

  • Brown-Montesano, Kristi. Understanding the Women of Mozart’s Operas. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007.

    DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520248021.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Focuses on the female characters of the Mozart-Da Ponte operas and The Magic Flute. Engages with the representations of individual female characters and on the relationships between female character pairs. Good introduction for undergraduate students.

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  • Harris, Ellen T. Handel as Orpheus: Voice and Desire in the Chamber Cantatas. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001.

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    Considers the private compositional practice and performance context of Handel’s chamber cantatas—a large part of his compositional corpus, but unpublished, and rarely discussed or performed. Traces a network of homosocial interaction and desire among the elite male patrons and musicians.

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  • Head, Matthew. Sovereign Feminine: Music and Gender in Eighteenth-Century Germany. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013.

    DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520273849.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Uncovers the social constructs around female musical performance in Germany during the late 18th century. Argues that contemporaries saw music as a fine art and the participation of women as a measure of the decorum and civilization of their current historical moment.

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  • Hunter, Mary. The Culture of Opera Buffa in Mozart’s Vienna: A Poetics of Entertainment. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000.

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    Gender forms a major axis of analysis, both in discussions of reception, and in regard to characterization and aria types.

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  • Le Guin, Elisabeth. Boccherini’s Body: An Essay in Carnal Musicology. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006.

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    Original and innovative contribution to music scholarship. Theorizes the body in relationship to the historical musician and to the modern scholar and performers. Addresses the 18th-century conception of “sensibility.” Valuable also for the quality of the writing and the experimental nature of the prose.

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Nineteenth-Century Music

The 19th century houses the bulk of canonical music, a circumstance reflected in the large quantity of scholarship that deals with modern reception and questions of interpretation, as scholars so frequently write about their own relationship to the music in question. The works cited here should be supplemented by works from other categories. Important examples include the relevant chapters of McClary 1991, Citron 1993 (both cited under Foundational Texts of Feminist Musicology), Clément 1988, and Koestenbaum 1993 (both cited under Foundational Texts of Opera and Gender or Sexuality), along with the other 19th-century examples in Voice and Vocal Musics. Brett 1997 is a classic exemplar that considers reception and performance context within the context of musical meanings. Solie 2004 is a masterful look at the meanings of music in Victorian culture. Esse 2013 evidences a particularly thought provoking take on the historicization of the gendered voice in relation to improvisation and composition.

Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century Classical Music

The terms “homosexual” and “heterosexual” were first defined around the turn of the 20th century, and it is only during the 20th century that modern identity labels have much relevance for the subjects of historical research. The 20th century also witnessed increased numbers of women composers working in professional and amateur contexts. Wood 1995 considers the conjunction of sexuality and gender in the professional life of Edith Smyth; Wood’s other work is also worthy of mention. Hubbs 2004 presents a radical reconfiguration of American music history, writing about the intertwined personal lives of a group of gay male composers and the ways in which their music came to represent identities at some remove from their own.

  • Hubbs, Nadine. The Queer Composition of America’s Sound: Gay Modernists, American Music, and National Identity. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.

    DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520241848.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Winner of the Philip Brett Award. Considers how the music of a Manhattan-based group of gay male composers—including Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson, Leonard Bernstein, Marc Blitzstein, Paul Bowles, David Diamond, and Ned Rorem—became associated with a distinctively and widely celebrated “American” sound, even while the homosexual, and in many cases Jewish, identities of these men were erased from the prevalent definitions of “American” nationalism.

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  • Moore, Christopher. “Camp in Francis Poulenc’s Early Ballets.” The Musical Quarterly 95.2–3 (2012): 299–342.

    DOI: 10.1093/musqtl/gds023Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Winner of the Philip Brett Award. Considers the composer’s sexuality as an important element of his compositional style. Looks at examples of androgyny, cross-dressing, and same-sex desire with Poulenc’s ballets.

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  • Pénet, Martin. “L’expression homosexuelle dans les chansons françaises de l’entre-deux-guerre: Entre derision et ambiguïté.” Revue d’Histoire Moderne et Contemporaine 53 (2006): 106–127.

    DOI: 10.3917/rhmc.534.0106Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Winner of the Philip Brett Award. Examines the music hall repertory of the 1920s and 1930s for references to homosexuality. Notes a distinction between representations of male homosexuality, which tend to be marked by derision, and female homosexuality, which is marked by ambiguity.

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  • Wood, Elizabeth. “Performing Rights: A Sonography of Women’s Suffrage.” The Musical Quarterly 79.4 (1995): 606–643.

    DOI: 10.1093/mq/79.4.606Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Focuses on the years 1910–1914 and on the contributions of British lesbian composer Ethel Smyth to the cause of women’s suffrage. Considers protest music written by Smyth, including her “March of the Women,” and the militant feminist inspiration of other pieces written by Smyth during the same period.

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Trans-historical Texts

There have been few attempts to trace music and gender and sexuality over large temporal spans, particularly since one of the important contributions of the field as a whole has been the insistence on historical specificity. An early exception is Drinker 1948: this work is innovative but largely outdated. Drinker is best read in conjunction with Solie 1993b (cited under Foundational Texts of Feminist Musicology). Peraino 2006 considers music as a favored means for expressions of non-normative desire.

  • Drinker, Sophie. Music and Women: The Story of Women in Their Relation to Music. New York: Coward-McCann, 1948.

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    Ambitious trans-historical and trans-cultural account of women throughout music history. While providing some information on specific female composers, Drinker tends toward anthropological analysis of wider cultural trends, thus considering the roles of women as musical performers and cultural or religious figures.

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  • Peraino, Judith A. Listening to the Sirens: Musical Technologies of Queer Identity from Homer to Hedwig. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006.

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    Winner of the Philip Brett Award. Theoretically indebted to Foucault. Considers a wide range of music, most by composers or performers who can be identified as queer in some way, including medieval song, 18th- and 19th-century composers, 20th-century popular musicians, and film musicals. Understands music as a privileged means to express desire.

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Voice and Vocal Musics

Voice has a privileged place within studies of gender and sexuality: as a marker of the human, as a gendered secondary sex characteristic, and through association with semantic content in both speech and song. Voice also takes precedence in studies of opera, which in turn has proved a fertile locus of studies in gender and sexuality, primarily as a consequence of the genre’s explicitly representational nature. Within studies of gender and sexuality, opera proved an early point of interest; see Foundational Texts of Opera and Gender or Sexuality. Opera studies and musical theater studies share a focus on communities of listeners, and thus on reception, as well as looking at direct characterizations through music.

Opera Studies

The works in this category treat specific musical works or specific historical periods. Brett 1983 and McClary 1992, both part of the Cambridge Opera Handbooks series, were particularly influential readings of canonical works. Hadlock 2015 (cited under Masculinity Studies) demonstrates the more flexible categories of recent work in the genre.

  • André, Naomi. Voicing Gender: Castrati, Travesti, and the Second Woman in Early Nineteenth-Century Opera. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006.

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    Focuses on the historical moment in which castrato voices were fading out of favor and tenor voices rising in prominence. Maps the changes in voice types and gender representation against a shift in operatic or narrative endings.

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  • Brett, Philip. Benjamin Britten: Peter Grimes. Cambridge Opera Handbooks. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1983.

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    Considers the sexuality of the composer and the way in which sexuality and desire are represented in the opera.

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  • Cowgill, Rachel, and Hilary Poriss, eds. The Arts of the Prima Donna in the Long Nineteenth Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

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    Sixteen chapters and two interludes. Covers a range of perspectives, from characterization and representation on stage, representation and interpretation of diva figures offstage, and historical writing on specific female opera stars. The collection as a whole provides an important legitimation of the burgeoning field of writing on performers and on performances of musical works.

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  • McClary, Susan. Georges Bizet: Carmen. Cambridge Opera Handbooks. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139166416Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Influential text that considers the representation of female desire and desirability.

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  • Wood, Elizabeth. “The Lesbian in the Opera: Desire Unmasked in Smyth’s Fantasio and Fête galante.” In En travesti: Women, Gender Subversion, Opera. Edited by Corinne E. Blackmer and Patricia Juliana Smith, 285–305. New York: Columbia University Press, 1995.

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    Winner of the Philip Brett Award. The two operas considered in the article (Fantasio [1894] and Fête galante [1924]) narrate romantic passion within a conventional, heteronormative frame. Wood examines subtle cues and doublings in order to excavate hidden lesbian subtexts.

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Voice Studies

The broader category of voice studies includes most work on opera; those that are cited here focus more specifically on the voice itself than on a specific genre. Wood 2006 and Wood 2000 are early and influential pieces of writing that think carefully about the various ways in which voices engender emotional responses. Peraino 2007 reads voices in terms of Judith Butler’s theories of performativity. Cheng 2014 considers voices in terms of gender and technology. Cusick 2015 presents a sophisticated historicization of voice and desire. See also the entries under Castrati, most of which deal with voice in some form. Goldin-Perschbacher 2007 and Krell 2013 demonstrate a growing theoretical interest in trans* voices, a rich locus for understanding the intertwined histories of biology, culture, gender, and desire. See also Tongson 2011 (cited under Hispanic and Asian Identities in Relation to Gender and Sexuality), which discusses the voice and identity in relation to karaoke and the suburbs.

  • Cheng, Will. “Acoustemologies of the Closet.” In The Oxford Handbook of Virtuality. Edited by Mark Grimshaw, 337–348. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

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    Winner of the Philip Brett Award. Examines the use of live voice-chat technology within online first-person shooter games and the gendered implications that voices bring to communities structured around the use of avatars engaged in virtual violence.

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  • Cusick, Suzanne G. “He Said, She Said? Men Hearing Women in Medicean Florence.” In Rethinking Difference in Music Scholarship. Edited by Olivia Bloechl, Melanie Lowe, and Jeffrey Kallberg, 53–76. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139208451.002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Close reading of trial documents linked to a 1620 scandal. Considers the ways in which certain voices are preserved in historical documents and how song could function as erotic practice within elite court circles and cloistered spaces. Contextualizes melophilia within an Italian Early Modern context.

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  • Goldin-Perschbacher, Shana. “‘Not with You but of You:’ ‘Unbearable Intimacy’ and Jeff Buckley’s Transgendered Vocality.” In Oh Boy! Masculinities and Popular Music. Edited by Freya Jarman-Ivens, 213–234. New York: Routledge, 2007.

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    Considers Buckley’s identification with particular female singing voices and the consequences for his singing persona.

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  • Jarman-Ivens, Freya. Queer Voices: Technologies, Vocalities, and the Musical Flaw. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

    DOI: 10.1057/9780230119550Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Technology is considered as both material processes and tools and in a more Foucaultian sense as “technologies of power.” Listens for moments when technologies are audible in recorded voices and argues that such moments have queer potential. Understands the voice as a privileged site of identification and dis-identification.

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  • Krell, Elias. “Contours through Covers: Voice and Affect in the Music of Lucas Silveira.” In Special Issue: Trans/Queer. Edited by Karen Tongson and Gustavus Stadler. Journal of Popular Music Studies 25.4 (2013): 476–503.

    DOI: 10.1111/jpms.12047Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Considers the musical covers of out transgender singer Lucas Silveira both before and after he began hormone replacement therapy. Avoids setting up a binary between the two different voices of before and after medical transition. Considers the importance of the cover in relationship to passing, transitioning, gender, sex, identity, and embodiment.

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  • Peraino, Judith A. “Listening to Gender: A Response to Judith Halberstam.” Women & Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture 11 (2007): 59–64.

    DOI: 10.1353/wam.2007.0027Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A response to Judith Halberstam’s article in the same journal issue, “Keeping Time with Lesbians on Ecstasy.” Peraino concentrates on the voice, elaborating a reading of Judith Butler’s theory of gender performativity and vocal production, and discussing the naturalization of various queer voices.

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  • Wood, Elizabeth. “Decomposition.” In Decomposition: Post-Disciplinary Performance. Edited by Sue-Ellen Case, Philip Brett, and Susan Leigh Foster, 201–214. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000.

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    Beautifully written essay mingling grief about her mother’s death—and the ways in which music had negotiated their fraught relationship—with a sophisticated discussion of lesbian listening, voice, and the singer Kathleen Ferrier.

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  • Wood, Elizabeth. “Sapphonics.” In Queering the Pitch: The New Gay and Lesbian Musicology. Edited by Philip Brett, Elizabeth Wood, and Gary C. Thomas, 27–66. New York: Routledge, 2006.

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    A sophisticated consideration of the nexus of voice and body, gender and sexuality. Wood focuses on the specifically lesbian erotics of certain forms of music-making and listening in the early 20th century. First published 1994.

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Musical Theater Studies (Not Opera)

Like opera, musical theater combines narrative, music, and directly represented characters—with clear opportunities to analyze gender and desire. In addition, both genres are associated with stereotypically gay audiences. Clum 1999 and Miller 1998 focus on gay male consumption and production of musical theater. Wolf 2002 and Wolf 2011 look specifically at lesbian and feminist audiences. Roger 2010 provides a historical ethnography of cross-dressing in variety theater during the 19th century.

Music and Violence

Violence, including sexual violence, is a heavily gendered practice, and much of the growing literature on music and violence utilizes gender and sexuality as crucial intellectual rubrics. Cusick has been a very public face of work on music and violence; the work cited here—Cusick 2008—is the first published forum in which she elaborates the link between musical violence and gendered hierarchies of power. McDonald 2010 looks at the ways in which violence can be valorized or normalized through musical performance. Pilzer 2012, Greitzer 2013, and Johnson 2015 all deal with sexual assault from the perspective of the victim, and with various musical responses to assault and to trauma.

  • Cusick, Suzanne G. “‘You are in a place that is out of the world’: Music in the Detention Camps of the ‘Global War on Terror.’” Journal of the Society for American Music 2.1 (2008): 1–26.

    DOI: 10.1017/S1752196308080012Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Builds upon her earlier work, “Music as Torture/Music as Weapon” (2006), not cited in this bibliography. Outlines the various ways in which “loud music” has been used as a coercive force in American-run detention camps. Discusses how music in such circumstances works in tandem with “gender coercion” in order to deconstruct the subjectivities of detainees.

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  • Greitzer, Mary Lee. “Queer Responses to Sexual Trauma: The Voices of Tori Amos’s ‘Me and a Gun’ and Lydia Lunch’s Daddy Dearest.” Women & Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture 17 (2013): 1–26.

    DOI: 10.1353/wam.2013.0000Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Considers the narrative personas of two very different songs, both about sexual assault, and both sung by the author/composer. Looks at the timbre of the voice and the ways in which both texts express multifaceted perspectives on the trauma and on the response of the victim.

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  • Johnson, Jenny Olivia. “The Sounds That Know: Synaesthesia, Sexual Trauma, and a Musicological Confession.” In Special Issue in Honor of Suzanne G. Cusick. Edited by Emily Wilbourne. Women & Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture 19 (2015): 133–141.

    DOI: 10.1353/wam.2015.0020Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Most recent in a series of articles in which the author considers the relationship between musical synaesthesia and sexual violence.

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  • McDonald, David A. “Geographies of the Body: Music, Violence, and Manhood in Palestine.” Ethnomusicology Forum 19.2 (2010): 191–214.

    DOI: 10.1080/17411912.2010.507463Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Considers the way in which music and other forms of expressive culture help to normalize the conjunction of violence, physicality, and masculinity within Palestinian culture. Focuses on music from weddings.

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  • Pilzer, Joshua D. Hearts of Pine: Songs in the Lives of Three Korean Survivors of the Japanese “Comfort Women.” New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

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    Intimate portrait of three survivors of the sexual-slavery system known as the “Comfort Women.” Documents how music and song served as mechanisms for coping with sexual violence and as an expressive format for the women concerned, both during years of secrecy and during intervals of public protest.

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Masculinity Studies

The study of masculinity marks an important component of the transition from “women’s studies” to “gender studies.” In music scholarship, such work can be seen as emblematic essays in a large number of the Edited Collections, but has only recently begun to appear in less targeted venues. Walser 1993 is emblematic of early approaches. Meintjes 2004 has been particularly influential. Wistreich 2007 is an important historicization of masculinity and performance. Hadlock 2015 shows how questions about masculinity can deepen an understanding of characterization.

  • Biddle, Ian, and Kirsten Gibson, eds. Masculinity and Western Musical Practice. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2008.

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    Twelve contributions divided into three sections, each with an introduction by the editors: Effeminate and Virile Musics and Masculinities; National Masculinities, National Musics; and Identities, Voices, Discourses. Repertoires range from the medieval to the 20th century, though most articles focus on canonical pieces and time periods.

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  • Hadlock, Heather. “Different Masculinities: Androgyny, Effeminacy, and Sentiment in Rossini’s La donna del lago.” In Rethinking Difference in Music Scholarship. Edited by Olivia Bloechl, Melanie Lowe, and Jeffrey Kallberg, 170–213. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139208451.006Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Reads the various male characterizations in Rossini’s La donna del lago as part of a spectrum of masculinities: both destabilizing and historicizing the category of maleness.

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  • Meintjes, Lousie. “Shoot the Sergeant, Shatter the Mountain: The Production of Masculinity in Zulu Ngoma Song and Dance in Post-Apartheid South Africa.” Ethnomusicology Forum 13.2 (2004): 173–201.

    DOI: 10.1080/1741191042000286185Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Theorizes the way in which aesthetically powerful and thus masculine elements of the dance translate into political power. Situates her reading in terms of the body as situated within gender and state politics.

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  • Spiller, Henry. Erotic Triangles: Sudanese Dance and Masculinity in West Java. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010.

    DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226769608.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The triangle of the book’s title refers to three elements of male dancing: the female entertainer, the drum, and the freedom experienced by men during the dance. Argues that such dances allow men to literally perform their masculinity, both challenging and reinforcing gender stereotypes.

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  • Walser, Robert. “Forging Masculinity: Heavy Metal Sounds and Images of Gender.” In Running with the Devil: Power, Gender, and Madness in Heavy Metal Music. By Robert Walser, 108–136. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1993.

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    Considers the spectacular nature of performance itself as part of the visual heavy metal aesthetic, with a particular focus on music videos. Discusses virtuosic performance, violence, and androgyny in relationship to constructions of masculinity.

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  • Wistreich, Richard. Warrior, Courtier, Singer: Giulio Cesare Brancaccio and the Performance of Identity in the Late Renaissance. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2007.

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    Brancaccio was a soldier and a singer, best known to musicologists for his participation in the famous Ferrarese ensemble of the Concerto delle donne. Wistreich considers Bracaccio’s reluctance to perform on demand and the conflict that arose between Brancaccio’s sense of self and the priorities of his patron.

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  • Yoon, Paul J. “Asian Masculinities and Parodic Possibility in Odaiko Solos and Filmic Representations.” Asian Music 40.1 (2009): 100–130.

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    Considers Asian and Asian American stereotypes of masculinity and the flow of representations between the two continents. Looks specifically at solo male performances on the Odaiko and filmic representations of Asian male bodies.

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Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century Popular Music

As with Western art music, Western popular music from the 20th and 21st centuries coincides with relatively coherent variants of sexual identities as they remain current today. The almost exclusive focus of popular music lyrics on desire and on love makes the repertoire a rich resource for writers on gender and sexuality. The historical currency of musical communities and recent popular music means that work in this category frequently employs interviews and a focus on ethnographic methodologies. A number of edited collections address popular music repertoires and interested readers should consult the Edited Collections in addition to those cited here. Gill 1995 is predominantly journalistic rather than scholarly. Keightley 1996 and McCracken 1999 deal with historicized models of gender and sexuality as articulated through new technologies of musical production: hi-fi and radio song, respectively. Leibetseder 2012 and Taylor 2012 aim at a monolithic encapsulation but are better read in tandem with more multifaceted approaches. Barg 2013 and Hubbs 2014 demonstrate the turn toward intersectional scholarship—Barg reading race and sexuality, Hubbs dealing with class and sexuality.

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