“Queer Musical Knowledge in the Arts-Science Archive, ca. 1890-1940”
Sexuality has emerged as a central lens for interpreting selfhood and culture in the modern era; however, an important archive from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries has fallen into neglect. Music, which resonates powerfully with the mysteries of sex and personal identity, forms a leitmotiv through a transdisciplinary body of early scientific and literary writing on sexuality. My work analyzes these discourses by following two main streams: how those writing on sexuality conceived of musicality and made use of appeals to music history, and how those doing music research addressed or veiled the issue of gender and sexual variance. Sources include medical case studies of homosexual musicians, the use of music as a metaphor for “coming out” in novels by E.M. Forster and Radclyffe Hall, the ambiguous treatment of queer biography in Rosa Newmarch’s Tchaikovsky research, and the web of authorial personae connecting music critic Edward Prime-Stevenson’s public work and pseudonymous amateur sexology.
Supervisor: Lloyd Whitesell