AMS Women and Gender
Endowed Lecture

Susan McClary

The Inaugural AMS Women and Gender Endowed Lecture will be delivered at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday 11 November.

Susan McClary, “Da Capo: Women Representing Women in Music”

Ruth Solie (Smith College), Ellie Hisama (Columbia University) and Jacqueline Warwick (Dalhousie University), Respondents

McClary describes her talk as follows: "Some years ago, I stirred up a hornet's nest by suggesting that women composers might consider shaping their musical procedures in ways that simulated experiences related to gender. My timing was bad: Judith Butler's Gender Trouble had just alerted everyone to the dangers of essentialism, and scholars as well as musicians—still marginalized and battling imperatives to sound ladylike— quickly put the kibosh on that line of inquiry.

"Today’s scene, however, features women who win Grammy Awards, have their work performed at the Metropolitan Opera, and receive star billing in New Yorker articles. They garner this attention in part because they choose to foreground gender, thereby widening the range of structures of feeling that might be shared through the medium of music. In this talk, I will return unrepentant to this topic, drawing on examples from artists such as Kaija Saariaho, Beyoncé, Kate Soper, and Jlin."

McClary’s research focuses on the cultural criticism of music. Her books include Feminine Endings: Music, Gender, and Sexuality; Georges Bizet: Carmen; Conventional Wisdom: The Content of Musical Form; Modal Subjectivities: Self-Fashioning in the Italian Madrigal; Reading Music: Selected Essays; Desire and Pleasure in Seventeenth-Century Music; and Structures of Feeling in Seventeenth-Century Cultural Expression. McClary received a MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Fellowship in 1995, and her work has been translated into some twenty languages. She is now completing a book titled The Passions of Peter Sellars: The Staging of Music Drama.

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