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Claiming Voice: Madalena Casulana and the Sixteenth-Century Italian Madrigal

This thesis explores the ways in which Madalena Casulana (ca. 1540ca. 1590) expressed her stated desire to overturn the misconceptions of sixteenth-century patriarchy that maintained that women did not have the ability to think and compose music as men did. Through an investigation into her life and works, as well as her philosophical and musical heritage, this thesis reveals that Casulana was not only aware of the gender barriers and stereotypes that made her position as a female composer precarious at best, but also that she sought to liberate women from their rigidly proscribed status. Examining the Greco-Roman roots of contemporary thoughts about biology and gender difference provides insight into the segregated world in which Casulana worked and explains the language of innuendo that permeated Casulanas musical medium, the madrigal. Her madrigals reveal a high level of training and creativity within the medium, but it is the way in which she utilizes her skill of representation through the madrigal that reveals her own voice amid the traditional tropes. Through manipulation of madrigal tropes, Casulana liberates the female voice from its traditional role as the conquered victim of male sexual fantasy, bridges the gap between the traditional associations of men as intellectual beings and women as sensual, and emphasizes unity and equality between the sexes.
Date04 June 2009
CreatorsHeere-Beyer, Samantha Erin
ContributorsJames P. Cassaro, MLS, MA, Don O. Franklin, PhD, Mary S. Lewis, PhD
PublisherUniversity of Pittsburgh
Source SetsUniversity of Pittsburgh
Detected LanguageEnglish
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