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“Such Genius as Hers”: Music in New Woman fiction

Dunst, Maura 2013. “Such Genius as Hers”: Music in New Woman fiction. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis examines music and its relationship to gender and the related social commentary woven throughout New Woman writing, putting forth the New Woman musician figure for consideration. In contrast to the male-dominated world of Victorian music, New Woman fiction is rife with women who not only wish to pursue music, but are brilliantly talented musicians and composers themselves. These women are the focal point of this thesis. The primary texts used are Kate Chopin’s The Awakening (1899); Sarah Grand’s Ideala (1888), The Heavenly Twins (1893), and The Beth Book (1897); George Egerton’s Keynotes (1893), Discords (1894), Symphonies (1897), and Fantasias (1898); George Moore’s Evelyn Innes (1898) and Sister Teresa (1901); and Mona Caird’s The Daughters of Danaus (1894); with George du Maurier’s Trilby (1894) (and, to a lesser extent, the Moore texts) offered in contrast to the foregoing. This thesis seeks to answer the following question: what is music’s function in New Woman fiction, and to what end? Each chapter offers an answer to this question using different areas of women’s musicianship: stifled musicians, performers, composers, and auditors. In addition, the penultimate chapter works toward a theory of “melopoetic composition,” or the blending of literary and musical composition, and discusses the role of mirror neurons in creating a unique reading experience which is visual, aural, and neural. Ultimately, this thesis illustrates that the sister arts of music and literature were woven together by the sisterhood of the New Woman writers, who used fiction as a medium through which to assert their multi-layered creative capabilities.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 23:18

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