Syllabus Update

Course Information

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Semester/Topic Description::

How could an apparently innocent medium such as music become the contested subject of cultural-political debates over the last 2000 years, upon which even the decline and/or continuation of civilization depends? How shall we understand the longevity of the myth of music�s power, even though mythological figures such as Orpheus already demonstrated its ultimate powerless�ness? Why did literary authors so often favor music over their own medium, and even regarded music as a utopia of expression capable of representing the ineffable? How can we explain the gendering of music as the other of male reason and patriarchal order that threatens the socio-cultural monopoly of men? And how shall we explain the persistence of these questions after the emergence of new audio-visual media of recording, reproduction, and transmission that dissolved the natural connection between voice and body, instrument and sound, time and space, that led to a radical transformation of our culture? The course intends to explore these questions, by drawing on the rich and diverse representation of music in all its socio-aesthetic complexity from antiquity to the present. The thematic scope will range from mythological, philosophical, and religious interpretations of music through issues of gender, race, and politics in literature, opera, and film, to theories of intermediality, and psychoanalytical implications of voice and sound. Focusing on exemplary models, we will reconstruct the changing social functions and highly ambiguous attitudes towards music in Western culture, oscillating between fear and fascination. In addition, we will also continuously confront the semiotic question of whether literature can justifiably be read in analogy to musical forms, and whether music as a language is also plausible in reverse.

Additional information/Expanded description:


Week 1 Introduction

Week 2 I. Musical Myths of Origin

a) �The Sirens�:

Homer, Odyssey, Book 12; pp.178-184
Theodor W. Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment, pp. 25-29

b) �Orpheus and Eurydice�:
Appolonius/ Vergil/Horace/Ovid/Boethius

Geoffrey Miles, Introduction �Orpheus�

c) Music, Power, and Religion: Plato and Augustine (excerpts)

Steven Paul Scher, �Literature and Music�
Werner Wolf, �Intermediality;� �Music and Narrative�

Week 3 II. Mythology and Opera

a) Monteverdi, Orfeo (music and text) (1607)

Adorno, �Bourgeois Opera� pp. 25-43
Susan McClary, �Constructions of Gender in Monteverdi�s
Dramatic Music,� pp. 35-52

Week 4-6 Romanticism and the Birth of the Modern Music Narrative

I. The Privileging of Music in Romantic Aesthetics

Fr. Schlegel, Novalis, Tieck, Hoffmann (excerpts)

II. Music - Religion � Morality - Madness:

a) Wackenroder, The Strange Musical Life of the Musical Artist Joseph Berglinger
b) Kleist, St. Cecilia or The Power of Music

III. Polarization of Artist and Society:
E.T.A. Hoffmann, Kreisleriana I

IV. Voice and Instrument. The Gendering of Music:
E.T.A. Hoffmann, Councillor Krespel

V. Intermedial Mirrors. From Opera to Text:
E.T.A. Hoffmann, Don Juan/ Mozart, Don Giovanni (music & text)

John Neubauer, The Emancipation of Music from Language
Werner Wolf, Musicalized Fiction and Intermediality. Theoretical
Aspects of Word and Music Studies
Ulrich Sch�nherr, Social Differentiation and Romantic Art: E.T.A.
Hoffmann�s �The Sanctus� and the Problem of Aesthetic Positioning in Modernity
David Wellbery, E.T.A. Hoffmann and Romantic Hermeneutics: An Interpretation of �Don Juan�
Mladen Dolar, Opera's second death (Don Giovanni)

Week 7 Romantic Music Narrative and Contemporary Cinema:
Jane Campion, The Piano/Wim Wenders, Lisbon Story

Week 8 Composing with Words

Kurt Schwitters, Ursonate
Steve Reich, Different Trains
Georges Perec, The Machine

Kofi Agawu, The Challenge of Semiotics
Levi-Strauss, Myth and Meaning

Week 9-10 Music, Sound, and Voice in the Age of New Media

a) Villiers de L�Isle �Adam, Tomorrow�s Eve (excerpts)
b) Th. Mann, The Magic Mountain (excerpts)
c) Nick Hornby, High Fidelity (excerpts)
d) Beineix, Diva (film)

K. Hayles, Voices out of Bodies/Bodies out of Voices. Audiotape
and the Production of Subjectivity
M. Dolar, A Voice and Nothing More (excerpts)
M. Poizat, The Angel�s Cry (pp. 3-28)

Week 10-11 Politics of Music

a) Th. Mann, The Blood of the Walsungs
b) Th. Mann, Doctor Faustus (excerpts)

Week 12-13 Demystifying the Myth of Music

Th. Bernhard, The Loser
F. Girard, 32 Short Films about Glenn Gould
M. Haneke, The Piano Teacher (film)

Week 14 Conclusion

Course Requirements:

Regular attendance and class participation; short response paper on each text (1-2 pages) (40%); one class presentation (10%), one midterm paper (5 pages) (20%), final paper (12-15 pages) (30%).