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Title:Agential realism and the “female harpist”: The relational ontology of genderharp in Georges Aperghis’ Fidélité (1982)
Author(s):Wan, Noel Yitsi
Director of Research:Silvers, Michael B
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Yeung, Ann M
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Barrett, Janet R; Tipei, Sever
Department / Program:Music
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Western pedal harp
new materialism
relational ontology
instrumental theatre
Abstract:The confluence of feminist scholar Karen Barad’s critical theories (agential realism, posthumanist performativity, posthumanism, new materialism) and Greek-French composer Georges Aperghis’ solo harp work Fidélité: pour harpiste seule regardée par un homme (“for female harpist watched by a man”) creates new philosophical interpretations for the relationship between gender and the Western European pedal harp. This dissertation first introduces Barad’s theory of agential realism as a new materialist, feminist intervention on historical and contemporary perspectives of gender—and particularly of women and femininity—in the Western European classical harp tradition. Within this exploration I have coined the term “genderharp” to argue that gender is inseparably entangled, not just within the discourse of, but also the very materiality of the pedal harp; gender is co-produced with harp, harpist, and other material bodies during the processes of configuring musical performances. In response, I use the theatrical setting of Aperghis’ work Fidélité as a case study for demonstrating genderharp. The secondary purpose of this dissertation answers the questions of “Is application of agential realism to the music of Georges Aperghis appropriate?” and “Does this application work?” Aperghis’ connection with the French post-structuralists Félix Guattari and Gilles Deleuze, whose theories have influenced new materialist and posthumanist scholars, provides a strong foundation for agential realism as a powerful interpretive tool for investigating (and participating in the creation of) social and musical identities as interrelations of sound and body in performance. Ultimately, these layered explorations of agential realism, genderharp, and Fidélité generate a feminist- activist stance towards narratives of gender in the classical harp community, arguing that these narratives, instead of existing at a distance from us, emerge from our bodily practices.
Issue Date:2020-05-06
Rights Information:Copyright 2020 Noël Yitsi Wan
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-08-26
Date Deposited:2020-05

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