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Melting the Venusberg : A Feminist Theology of Music - Epstein Heidi

Melting the Venusberg

A Feminist Theology of Music


Published: 15th October 2004
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This book begins with a pointed critique of the foundations of the understanding of Western music: music from Pythagoras to the Renaissance has been viewed as the source and model of order in the universe and in society. Unfortunately, that order was rigidly hierarchical so that, over the centuries, music reinforced established social prejudices, particularly those against women. Nowhere was this more evident than in religious music, which was regarded by male ecclesiastics and scholars as the instrument of choice for taming hysterical, womb-wandering female eruptions. Through her mordant commentary on a rich selection of texts by major thinkers from two millennia of Christian theology, Heidi Epstein shows in the first part of Melting the Venusberg that music as the erotic embodiment of human engenderment has been ignored or suppressed, while music as the expression of transcendent harmony, order, and restraint has been extolled. Her treatment of traditionalist repressive tactics is an insightful subversion of conventional theologies of music, as well as a hilarious expose of male theologians emoting, fatuously and prolixly, over this or that 'divine,' 'sublime', 'celestial' composer - Bach and Mozart being the main victims of these effusions. The second, reconstructive part of Melting the Venusberg draws on ignored sources and lost tropes from the Christian tradition as well as on insights from the music and thought of historical and contemporary woman composers and performers, from Hildegard of Bingen and Lucrezia Vizzana, to Rosetta Tharpe and Diamanda Galas. Through this recuperative synthesis, music's theological significance changes keys, as it moves beyond its symbolic function as divinely ordained, harmonious microcosm into more dissonant metaphorical registers. Those who have ears to hear will be delighted.

"'Studies of music and religion proliferate, but until the appearance of Melting the Venusberg few such studies have taken up the new issues and modes of inquiry that have caused so much ferment within musicology. This book testifies to Heidi Epstein's intelligence and originality in attempting to combine two fields with such radically different histories and scholarly traditions. Her musical knowledge is detailed and secure, and her ability to cope with important inter-disciplinary currents formidable.'-Mitchell Morris, University of California"

Prefacep. ix
Acknowledgementsp. xi
Introduction: "Musing the Obscure": The Problem of Music and Meaningp. 1
Critique of Masculinist Theologies of Music
Phallic Rage for Order: Traditional Theologies of Musicp. 11
Sexing the Semitone: Music's Historical Engenderingp. 32
"Inebriate Bewitchment": Harmony's Eternal Returnp. 70
Feminist Reconstruction
Critical Counterpoint: Arpeggiating a Feminist Theology of Musicp. 119
Twisted Sisters' Theological Grist: Music as Redemptive Transgressionp. 140
"Foul Ooze": New Icons of Abjectionp. 160
Da Capo: "Sing for Our Time Too": Future Theologies of Attunementp. 185
Works Citedp. 188
Indexp. 197
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780826416483
ISBN-10: 0826416489
Audience: BAC
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 208
Published: 15th October 2004
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 22.9 x 15.2  x 1.91
Weight (kg): 0.3
Edition Number: 1