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Music and the Queer Body in Fin-de-Siècle Literature

RIDDELL, FRASER,IAN (2018) Music and the Queer Body in Fin-de-Siècle Literature. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis examines the significance of the body in queer fin-de-siècle representations of music. It offers important new ways of thinking about how music challenges foundational accounts of identity, how music is recruited to psychic fantasies of masochistic self-divestiture, and how music acts to position queer bodies in both time and space. It draws attention to modes of queer musical consumption that are often unsettling or problematic, in order to move beyond critical accounts that focus solely on heroic queer self-assertion or the emancipatory potential of music. By charting ways in which marginalized subjects experience music in terms of shame and loss, it prompts enquiry into a broader range of embodied responses to music.

Chapter 1 investigates the significance of music, the body and emotionalism in fin-de-siècle sexological writings and in debates in Victorian musical aesthetics. Drawing upon the work of Leo Bersani, Chapter 2 examines the association between music and masochism in texts by Vernon Lee, Walter Pater, and Arthur Symons. Chapter 3 focusses on the writings of John Addington Symonds, examining representations of the voice of the chorister in late-Victorian literature. Chapter 4 considers the significance of embodied tactile encounters between musicians, listeners, and musical instruments in texts by E. M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, Vernon Lee and others. It demonstrates how interactions between instruments and bodies allow for the emergence of new queer experiences of space. Chapter 5 investigates texts by Robert Browning, E. F. Benson, and others, in which music subjects bodies to temporal flux or dislocation. By reading such texts in the light of both Victorian evolutionary thought and contemporary theory’s concern with ‘queer temporalities’, the chapter demonstrates the significance of those tropes of retrogression that attach to embodied experiences of music.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:2018
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:22 May 2018 12:12

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