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Ethel Smyth and the Scientific and Cultural Iconography of the Creative Victorian Female.

Stapleton, Joanne. (2003) Ethel Smyth and the Scientific and Cultural Iconography of the Creative Victorian Female. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey (United Kingdom)..

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Abstract

The Victorian woman composer occupied a culturally contentious position in relation to the performance, publication and reception of her works. Writing in 1933, composer Ethel Smyth identifies the ‘sex question’ as the single most influential factor in the shaping of the composer’s public persona and compositional identity. Smyth’s comment reveals a clear interrogation between socio-scientiflc concepts of gender and the formation of creative identity within late nineteenth-and early twentieth-century musicological debate. In this context the dominant position of the emerging late nineteenth-century biomedical and sexual sciences, formed an integral component of the polarised view of female creativity as an articulation of ‘fragile’ femininity, or alternately as a biological and cultural evolutionary legacy of masculinity. For Smyth (classified in socio-scientiflc terms as a ‘masculine’ woman by virtue of her physical persona and occupation of the masculine sphere of large-scale compositional genres), this interrelationship proffered a point of compositional interrogation, locating her works within the deeply controversial arena of Victorian sexual and gender politics. This study will locate Smyth and her works within socio-scientifically informed cultural representations of gender in order to establish the significance of late nineteenth-century gender ideologies upon the reception and creation of Smyth’s public persona as ‘woman composer’ and the development of her compositional identity.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors : Stapleton, Joanne.
Date : 2003
Additional Information : Thesis (M.Phil.)--University of Surrey (United Kingdom), 2003.
Depositing User : EPrints Services
Date Deposited : 14 May 2020 14:17
Last Modified : 14 May 2020 14:24
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/856577

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