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Title: 'Flippant dolls' and 'serious artists' : professional female singers in Britain, c.1760-1850
Author: Kennerley, David Thomas
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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Existing accounts of the music profession argue that between 1750 and 1850 musicians acquired a new identity as professional ‘artists’ and experienced a concomitant rise in their social and cultural status. In the absence of sustained investigation, it has often been implied that these changes affected male and female musicians in similar ways. As this thesis contends, this was by no means the case. Arguments in support of female musical professionalism, artistry, and their function in public life were made in this period. Based on the gender-specific nature of the female voice, they were an important defence of women’s public engagement that has been overlooked by gender historians, something which this thesis sets out to correct. However, the public role and professionalism of female musicians were in opposition to the prevailing valorisation of female domesticity and privacy. Furthermore, the notion of women as creative artists was highly unstable in an era which tended to label artistry, ‘genius’ and creativity as male attributes. For these reasons, the idea of female musicians as professional artists was always in tension with contemporary conceptions of gender, making women’s experience of the ‘rise of the artist’ much more contested and uncertain compared to that of men. Those advocating the female singer as professional artist were a minority in the British musical world. Their views co-existed alongside very different and much more prevalent approaches to the female singer which had little to do with the idea of the professional artist. Through examining debates about female singers in printed sources, particularly newspapers and periodicals, alongside case studies based on the surviving documents of specific singers, this thesis builds a picture of increasing diversity in the experiences and representations of female musicians in this period and underlines the controlling influence of gender in shaping responses to them.
Supervisor: Harris, Bob Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Dramatic arts ; Recreational & performing arts ; Eighteenth-Century Britain and Europe ; Modern Britain and Europe ; 18th Century music ; 19th Century music ; Opera ; Performance ; Romanticism (music) ; Music ; Theatre ; Gender ; Women ; Singers ; Singing ; Professions ; Professionalism ; Professionalization ; Arts ; Artistry