Sound, Sin, and Conversion in Victorian England: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Sound, Sin, and Conversion in Victorian England

1st Edition

By Julia Grella O'Connell


172 pages

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Hardback: 9781472410849
pub: 2018-04-16
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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

About the Author

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.

About the Series

Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain

Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain

So much of our ‘common’ knowledge of music in nineteenth-century Britain is bound up with received ideas. This series disputes their validity through research critically reassessing our perceptions of the period. Volumes in the series cover wide-ranging areas such as composers and composition; conductors, management and entrepreneurship; performers and performing; music criticism and the press; concert venues and promoters; church music and music theology; repertoire, genre, analysis and theory; instruments and technology; music education and pedagogy; publishing, printing and book selling; reception, historiography and biography; women and music; masculinity and music; gender and sexuality; domestic music-making; empire, orientalism and exoticism; and music in literature, poetry, theatre and dance.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / General