“Music, Disability, and Embodiment in Contemporary Performance”
My dissertation analyzes the creative endeavours of contemporary disabled musicians and listeners in relation to three idealized pillars of musical experience: listening, looking, and performing. I approach listening through the musical experiences of deaf people, revealing multi-sensory ways of listening beyond hearing while detailing the precarious social, physical, and musical contours of “normal” hearing. I also examine performances by musicians with “visible” disabilities to interrogate the presumed visual dynamics of stigma in existing disability theory: I argue that genre, sound, and identity politics shape the spectator’s perception of the performer’s disability. Finally, I show how amputee musicians intervene in prevailing conceptions of musical ability through their use of prosthetic technologies, unsettling the customary physical terms of music performance.
Supervisor: Lloyd Whitesell