Combining new musicology trends, formal musical analysis, and literary feminist recovery work, Leslie Ritchie examines rare poetic, didactic, fictional, and musical texts written by women in late eighteenth-century Britain. She finds instances of and resistance to contemporary perceptions of music as a form of social control in works by Maria Barthélemon, Harriett Abrams, Mary Worgan, Susanna Rowson, Hannah Cowley, and Amelia Opie, among others. Relating women's musical compositions and writings about music to theories of music's function in the formation of female subjectivities during the latter half of the eighteenth century, Ritchie draws on the work of cultural theorists and cultural historians, as well as feminist scholars who have explored the connection between femininity and performance. Whether crafting works consonant with societal ideals of charitable, natural, and national order, or re-imagining their participation in these musical aids to social harmony, women contributed significantly to the formation of British cultural identity. Ritchie's interdisciplinary book will interest scholars working in a range of fields, including gender studies, musicology, eighteenth-century British literature, and cultural studies.
'Ritchie’s exploration of English women’s music making will interest not only musicologists, but also a broader range of readers interested in cultural studies, feminist criticism, and eighteenth-century studies. Disproving assumptions that women’s participation in music in this period was confined to the domestic� sphere, Ritchie shows women musicians performing in venues ranging from the most obviously public, like the London opera and theater stages, to intimate domestic settings. Literary readers will appreciate discovering lyrics by important women poets, while musicians will like the generous provision of musical examples'. Susan Staves, Brandeis University, USA ’… ambitious, rewarding study … Ritchie … makes a major contribution to each of the disciplines that informs her study, chiefly musicology, literary studies, eighteenth-century studies, and gender studies … Ritchie’s clear writing and her lucid explanations of the myths and assumptions that have long governed”and hampered”investigations of women’s participation in eighteenth-century musical worlds would make this book valuable for classroom use.’ NABMSA Newsletter ’By considering not only music but also contributors to musical life outside the bounds of traditional musicology, Ritchie’s book reveals much valuable material, establishing the extent to which the content, production and development of the vocal music of the period depended on women.’ Early Music ’… a valuable book…’ Studies in English Literature ’Ritchie performs that most difficult feat of writing clearly and concisely about complex cultural issues without over-simplication or reductive reading. …the quality of analysis […] of both literature and music, is illuminating, rich and vital. This book is much to be recommended to those interested in 18th century culture, particularly as it relates to women and music.’ The Consort ’… the book essentially covers not only women writing
Contents: Introduction: composing themselves: musical and social harmony; Discipline, pleasure, and practice; Women's occasion for music: the performative continuum and lyrical categories; Caritas; or, women and musically enacted charity; Arcadia: or, women's strategic use of the pastoral; Britannia: or women and songs of nation and otherness; Conclusion; Bibliography. Index.