Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Heresy to Artistry: The Upward Mobility of Musical Whistling Through Rhetorical Framing
by Kaufman, Carole Anne, M.A., California State University, Los Angeles, 2017, 112; 10685759
Abstract (Summary)

Mouth whistling is one of the oldest forms of commination known to humans. Though often overlooked and underappreciated, whistling has been a powerful, universal tactic of message sending for millennia. Research reveals historical contexts of whistling as an uncouth, unlucky and unladylike act reserved for the working class. This has resulted in the disparagement of all forms of whistling. Despite its status as a marginalized act, people around the world partake of whistling for many purposes, including music. Competitive whistling events which showcase virtuosic musical talent have existed for over forty years, yet the art form does not receive the respect other musical instruments have been awarded. This thesis explores the rhetorical influences that have consigned whistling to low-culture, muting its voice and restricting its existence as a legitimate musical art form. It examines how essentialist perspectives, empowered by hegemonic ideologies of gender and class, have constrained the potential of musical whistling to grow as a culturally credible musical contribution. Patriarchal hierarchies and gendered, linguistic cues promote subtle sexist practices which marginalize people and practices based on arbitrary cultural constructs. Historically, women have been expressly forbidden from whistling. Direct and subtle sexist messages, perpetuated through language and folklore have sustained the status quo across generations, silencing women’s voices and whistles. Exposing unconscious acts which support and sustain the status quo reveal subtle, marginalizing forces which promulgate ideologies across generations. Nescience is investigated as a powerful element sustaining archaic ideological perspectives. Through autoethnography, the author, a world-champion whistler, describes strategic rhetorical processes employed with the intention of reframing and transforming musical whistling from noise to art.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: DeChaine, Robert
Commitee: Afary, Kamran, Olsen, David, Wang, Cynthia
School: California State University, Los Angeles
Department: Communication Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 57/01M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Music, Communication, Gender studies
Keywords: Cultural studies, Folklore, Framing, Music, Sexism, Whistling
Publication Number: 10685759
ISBN: 978-0-355-53396-5
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