1st Edition

Towards a Twenty-First-Century Feminist Politics of Music

ISBN 9781409409823
Published December 28, 2010 by Routledge
206 Pages

USD $175.00

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Book Description

Towards a Twenty-First-Century Feminist Politics of Music opens up a new way of thinking about the absence of women's music. It does not aim to find 'a solution' in a liberal feminist sense, but to discover new potentialities, new possibilities for thought and action. Sally Macarthur encourages us, with the assistance of Deleuze, and feminist-Deleuzian work, to begin the important work of imagining what else might be possible, not in order to provide answers but to open up the as yet unknown. The power of thought - or what Deleuze calls the 'virtual' - opens up new possibilities. Macarthur suggests that the future for women's 'new' music is not tied to the predictable and known but to futures beyond the already-known. Previous research concludes that women's music is virtually absent from the concert hall, and yet fails to find a way of changing this situation. Macarthur finds that the flaw in the recommendations flowing from past research is that it envisages the future from the standpoint of the present, and it relies on a set of pre-determined goals. It thus replicates the present reality, so reinforcing rather than changing the status quo. Macarthur challenges this thinking, and argues that this repetitive way of thinking is stuck in the present, unable to move forward. Macarthur situates her argument in the context of current dominant neoliberal thought and practice. She argues that women have generally not thrived in the neoliberal model of the composer, which envisages the composer as an individual, autonomous creator and entrepreneur. Successful female composers must work with this dominant, modernist aesthetic and exploit the image of the neo-romantic, entrepreneurial creator. This book sets out in contrast to develop a new conception of subjectivity that sows the seeds of a twenty-first-century feminist politics of music.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction: thinking with Deleuze; How is gender composed in musical composition?; How is the composer composed?; Composing 'new' music's public image; Feminists recomposing the field of musicology; A thousand dissonances and women's 'new' music; Women, 'new' music and the composition of becomings; Bibliography; Index.

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Dr Sally Macarthur, Senior Lecturer in Musicology, School of Communication Arts, University of Western Sydney, Australia


’Sally Macarthur’s current, ground-breaking research provides a timely, renewed approach to addressing an ongoing ’problem’-namely, feminism and (art-)music. Her work goes a substantial way towards filling the gap that has occurred in this first decade of the twenty-first century, both in research on women’s music and also in the best ways into that research-ways that transcend the cul-de-sac in which traditional feminist musicological models have resulted.’ Linda Kouvaras, University of Melbourne, Australia ’This book makes a significant contribution to the field of contemporary music. It is innovative, challenging and highly readable. Its major contribution is to open up a new way of thinking about the absence of women’s music in the concert halls. It does not aim for a quantitative solution where numbers of women composers equals that of men, but to discover new potentialities, new possibilities for thought and action. It is a moving and important conceptual study that has the potential to make a difference.’ Bronwyn Davies, University of Melbourne, Australia '... the book is provocative and sure to stimulate lively discussions and future scholarship... Highly recommended.' Choice '... a stimulating read and much food for thought... Sally Macarthur’s committed foray into post-second wave feminist politics has the potential to spark other studies of the current landscape, a welcome prospect for the field. It also brings a new subjective position to the scholarly discourse on women and music, one that resides outside the dominant US-UK-Germany fold.' Music and Letters 'This is the kind of book that stays with you long after you’ve finished reading it... Breaking free from the tired and worn out stories of women’s underrepresentation in music, it challenges readers to look at this ’problem’ differently, and imagine a future beyond the status quo.' Music Forum ’... a powerfully political book that is distinct from previous stu