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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Rhetoric of Sexuality in the Age of Brahms and Wagner
by McManus, Laurie, Ph.D., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2011, 251; 3464928
Abstract (Summary)

As an enduring theme in histories of nineteenth-century music, the Brahms-Wagner debate often takes the problem of form as its main thesis: it has long been cast as the struggle of "absolute" versus "program" music. Recent musicology has focused on its intersections with nationalism and politics, historicism, and the nascent fields of music history and theory. Employing a discourse analysis that reveals overlooked cultural influences, I have examined the debate through the lens of sexual rhetoric employed in music criticism, such as Wagnerian attacks on the "chaste" Brahms, or the accusations of "wanton lust" in Wagner. By incorporating documents that relate music explicitly to sexuality, gender roles, and notions of the body, I argue that we reassess the debate as a fundamental struggle between sensuality ( Sinnlichkeit) and purity (Reinheit) in music. This global approach extends the debate beyond traditional generic boundaries and modes of scholarly inquiry, and contextualizes it against cultural ideas of sexuality, purity, and the women's emancipation movement.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Finson, Jon
Commitee: Bonds, Mark Evan, Fauser, Annegret, Neff, Severine, Woerner, Felix
School: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Department: Musicology
School Location: United States -- North Carolina
Source: DAI-A 72/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: European history, Music, Gender studies
Keywords: Aesthetics, Brahms, Johannes, Gender, Germany, Reception, Sexuality, Wagner, Richard
Publication Number: 3464928
ISBN: 978-1-124-81816-0
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