Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Richard Wagner's Political Ecology
by Paige, Kirsten Sarah, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2018, 122; 10811589
Abstract (Summary)

Central to this dissertation is the theory of “breathable” music that composer and political revolutionary Richard Wagner introduces in his little-known essay, “Art and Climate” (1850). Musing on the relationship of art to politics, he suggests that his operatic spectacles would not follow contemporary artistic conventions and standards, but would instead embody the climate of the primeval German forest and cultivate primeval, Teutonic values in bourgeois audiences. This project explores the origins of this idea in period writings on climatic determinism—the theory that climate embeds difference into our genetic material—and examines how Wagner animated it in the theater through dramas that connect nature with identity and stagings that simulated specific climates for listeners, a form of indoor climate control I link to period greenhouse design, physiological thought, and atmospheric science. In demonstrating the primacy of climatic thought to Wagner’s social aesthetic paradigm and practices, this project implicates Wagnerian artistry as prefiguring later ideologies of sound, space, and spectatorship that locate social, cultural, and even bodily transformation in audiovisual engagement.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Smart, Mary Ann
Commitee: Davies, James Q., Mathew, Nicholas, Tang, Chenxi
School: University of California, Berkeley
Department: Music
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 82/1(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Music history, German literature, Environmental Studies
Keywords: Germany, Media, Nature, Opera, Technology, Wagner
Publication Number: 10811589
ISBN: 9798662485709
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