HomeGay, lesbian and queer musicological research: Modest veil on classical music?

HomeGay, lesbian and queer musicological research: Modest veil on classical music?

Gay, lesbian and queer musicological research: Modest veil on classical music?

Musicologies gaies, lesbiennes et queers : voile pudique sur la musique classique ?

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Published on Thursday, November 24, 2022

Abstract

In the wake of the second generation of English gay, lesbian and queer studies, we aim to promote the questioning of French musicological practices, and then to produce new thought about composers, works and aesthetics, specifically in the classical music area. Would the scarcity of French musicological research dedicated to these issues be the result of a phenomenon of invisibilization? This epistemological point of view will allow us to reconsider Susan McClary’s words: to what degree could the disclosure or the concealment of a sexual orientation or gender identity enlighten musicological perspectives?

Announcement

Argument

« In music, we can come out without coming, we can reveal without saying a word. »

(Koestenbaum, 1993, p. 189-190)

In 1989, Susan McClary wrote, “Steblin’s article forces us to reflect once again on why, how and even if musicology should address topics connected with homosexuality. […] Do we really need to know about a composer’s sex life? Does this kind of knowledge matter?” (McClary, 1993, pp. 84–85): the musicologist analyses here the discussion opposing Solomon and Steblin in the early 1990s around Schubert’s presumed homosexuality. This controversy, a reflection of post-Stonewall times, tends to show that the freedom of speech now prevails in academic fields. Indeed, since the early 1970s, the first gender studies have echoed the works of Michel Foucault (Mazaleigue-Labaste, 2019) and have opened new perspectives on the links between sexuality, society and art. Thereafter, the major works of Judith Butler (1990), Eve Kosofsky (1990) and Teresa de Lauretis (1991) have spread these types of questions far beyond the academic field.

In this fruitful period during which queer studies were structured, musicologists began to think and write about this subject. In the USA, Maynard Solomon opened the debate with an article published in American Imago, a psychoanalysis journal, in which he offered an explicit interpretation of Mein Traum by Franz Schubert as a homosexual fantasy tale (1981, p. 147). A few years later, in 1988, during the annual conference of the American Musicological Society (Fuller, Whitesell, 2002, p. 6), and then in an article as famous as it was contested—“Franz Schubert and the Peacocks of Benvenuto Cellini”—Solomon made new assumptions (1989) even though the demonstration suffers, as Rita Steblin (1993) argued in the journal 19th-Century Music dedicated to the question (Kramer, 1993), examining several historical problems.

The liveliness of these discussions proves how much the subject interests the scientific community. In this context, the AMS organized a “Gay and Lesbian Study” panel for the first time in 1989. Several books and articles, such as Feminine Endings (Susan McClary, 1991), Musicology and Difference (Ruth Solie, 1993) and Queering the Pitch (Philip Brett, Elizabeth Wood and Gary C. Thomas, 1994) were published in the next decade, laying down the foundation of gay, lesbian and queer musicological studies. And, since 1997, the AMS’s LGBT Study Group has sponsored the Philip Brett Award, which “honors exceptional musicological work in the field of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender/transsexual studies[1]”.

A second generation of musicologists sensitive to issues of gender and sexuality came of age in the early 21st century, publishing many studies, sometimes questionable in the authors’ own words, which explored the sexuality of composers such as Hildegarde von Bingen (Zimmerman, 2000, pp. 514–515), Frédéric Chopin (Weber, 2021), Ethel Smyth (Wood, 1993), Piotr Ilitch Tchaïkovski (Jackson, 1999), Edward Elgar (Adams, 2000), Maurice Ravel (Ivry, 2000; Whitesell, 2002; Puri, 2007; Whitesell, 2010; Puri, 2010), Francis Poulenc (Shiflett, 2020; Lacombe, 2013, pp. 386–389), Pierre Boulez, Sylvano Bussotti (Osmond-Smith, Attinello, 2007) and Claude Vivier (Rhéaume, 2021). However, these research studies are not limited to biographical or political thought. They try to understand issues such as the following: the influence of a queer lifestyle—overt or concealed—upon the artist’s production, considering a camp perspective in the choreographic works of Poulenc (Moore, 2012), studying gender performance in lyrical art, looking for homoerotism in the four-hand piano playing of Schubert and colleagues (Kopelson, 1996; Brett, 1997) or studying the music in Walt Whitman’s poems (Adams, 2000).

Recently, works by Susan McClary and Wayne Koestenbaum were translated by the Philharmonie de Paris (McClary, 2015; Koestenbaum, 2019), showing that the subject has begun to interest a non-academic public. However, original studies in the French-speaking world remain scarce. Since the beginning of the 21st century and the rise of gender studies, many French musicologists have developed feminist perspectives, such as Raphaëlle Legrand (co-founder of the CReIM; 2015; 2019), Catherine Deutsch (2018) and Hyacinthe Ravet (2011). As editorial committee of Transposition highlighted in a special queer and contemporary music studies volume (2013), these kinds of analyses (gender and domination) are essential. At the same time, lying at the crossroads of literary studies, history, sociology, political science, and the history of the arts, and as an extension of Florence Tamagne (2000; 2001; 2016), research by Teresa de Lauretis (2007) and Sam Bourcier (2021) on punk scenes, techno and metal are now at the centre of queer interrogation on topics such as the empowerment process, corporification and community socialization (Taylor, 2012; Laverdière, 2015; Barrière, 2021). In this respect, French research on popular music is more favourable to intersectionality than research on classical music. Why is this the case?

In the wake of the second generation of English gay, lesbian and queer studies, we aim to promote the questioning of French musicological practices, and then to produce new thought about composers, works and aesthetics, specifically in the classical music area. Would the scarcity of French musicological research dedicated to these issues be the result of a phenomenon of invisibilization? This epistemological point of view will allow us to reconsider the quote by Susan McClary: to what degree could the disclosure or the concealment of a sexual orientation or gender identity enlighten musicological perspectives?

We invite proposals on:

  • Focus 1 :To say or not to say? Epistemological relevance of unveiling. 
  • Focus 2  : Closing the closet. Study of resistance and systems of invisibilization of sexual orientation and gender identity. 
  • Focus 3 :Converging. Musicology, interdisciplinarity and intersectionality. What about queer methodologies applied to musicology?
  • Focus 4 :Stepping out of the line. Affirmation of identity, exploration of the margins, philosophical and political issues.
  • Focus 5 :Analysing. Case studies addressing the issues raised above.

Submission guidelines

Each speaker will have 30 minutes for the paper (in French or English) plus 10 minutes for discussion. Please send an abstract (PDF or Word file) for paper that have not been previously published of no more than 500 words and a short biographical note to: jason.julliot@gmail.com and jeremy.michot@gmail.com

Deadline for proposals: 1st March 2023.

Dates

  • 1er mars 2023 : limite d’envoi des propositions
  • 31 mars 2023 : notifications aux communicant·es
  • 19-20 octobre 2023 : colloque

Keynote speaker

Susan McClary

Program Committee

  • Jason Julliot (Université de Rouen Normandie, Université de Liège, CNSMDP)
  • Jérémy Michot (Université de Perpignan Via Domitia)

Scientific committee

  • Louise Barrière (Université Toulouse – Jean Jaurès)
  • Rémy Campos (CNSMDP, Haute École de Musique de Genève)
  • Achille Davy-Rigaux (CNRS)
  • Catherine Deutsch (Université de Lorraine)
  • Fabre Guin (CNSMDP)
  • Raphaëlle Legrand (Sorbonne Université)
  • Sylvie Pébrier (CNSMDP)
  • Emmanuel Reibel (ENS Lyon, CNSMDP)
  • Hyacinthe Ravet (Sorbonne Université)
  • Florence Tamagne (Université de Lille)

Coordinateur institutionnel

Arthur Macé (chargé de mission recherche, CNSMDP)

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Note

[1] https://www.amsmusicology.org/page/brett (04/04/22)

Event attendance modalities

Full on-site event


Date(s)

  • Wednesday, March 01, 2023

Keywords

  • lgbt, musique classique, musique savante, invisibilisation, minorité, épistromélogie, historiographie

Contact(s)

  • Jérémy Michot
    courriel : jeremy [dot] michot [at] univ-tours [dot] fr
  • Jason Julliot
    courriel : jason [dot] julliot [at] gmail [dot] com

Information source

  • Jérémy Michot
    courriel : jeremy [dot] michot [at] univ-tours [dot] fr

License

CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Gay, lesbian and queer musicological research: Modest veil on classical music? », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Thursday, November 24, 2022, https://doi.org/10.58079/1a0v

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