Sound, Sin, and Conversion in Victorian England  book cover
1st Edition

Sound, Sin, and Conversion in Victorian England

ISBN 9780367591403
Published June 30, 2020 by Routledge
186 Pages

FREE Standard Shipping
USD $48.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

The plight of the fallen woman is one of the salient themes of nineteenth-century art and literature; indeed, the ubiquity of the trope galvanized the Victorian conscience and acted as a spur to social reform. In some notable examples, Julia Grella O’Connell argues, the iconography of the Victorian fallen woman was associated with music, reviving an ancient tradition conflating the practice of music with sin and the abandonment of music with holiness. The prominence of music symbolism in the socially-committed, quasi-religious paintings of the Pre-Raphaelites and their circle, and in the Catholic-Wagnerian novels of George Moore, gives evidence of the survival of a pictorial language linking music with sin and conversion, and shows, even more remarkably, that this language translated fairly easily into the cultural lexicon of Victorian Britain. Drawing upon music iconography, art history, patristic theology, and sensory theory, Grella O’Connell investigates female fallenness and its implications against the backdrop of the social and religious turbulence of the mid-nineteenth century. 

Table of Contents

Introduction: Music, Sin, and Grace 1. Music, Magdalenes, and Metanoia in The Awakening Conscience 2. Music, Mirrors, and Marian Doppelgängers 3. Instruments of Change: Hearing and Belief 4. Musical Converts Conclusion: Seeing, Hearing, and Conversion

View More



Julia Grella O'Connell is the founder of the research-driven performance initiative the Risorgimento Project. She received her Doctor of Musical Arts degre from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York in 2009, and has served on the faculties of Hunter College and The City College of New York. In addition to her international concert appearances with the Risorgiomento Project, she has performed as a soloist with Syracuse Opera, Opera at Caramoor, and ConcertOpera Philadelphia. She is currently a member of the music faculty at Broome Community College of the State University of New York.


"The Diana McVeagh Prize Committee commends Dr. O’Connell’s interdisciplinary scholarship, which traverses visual art, literature, theology, and music with great skill, and is delivered in exceptionally refined and lucid prose. Through her focus on the trope of the ‘fallen woman,’ Dr. O’Connell demonstrates--among other things--how images involving Saint Cecilia or Mary Magdalen informed Victorian perceptions of music's moral agency." North American British Musical Studies Association, 2019 McVeagh Prize Committee