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Wort Lectures: Suzanne Cusick

When Mar 08, 2019
from 11:00 AM to 01:00 PM
Where West Road Concert Hall
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Suzanne Cusick
New York University

Rethinking the musical nun in early modern Florence

This lecture in honor of International Women's Day will center on the flourishing, fashionable culture around cloistered nuns' music-making in early modern Italy. After situating the historiography of nuns' music-making in the larger conundrum I call the "women in music" problem, I will review the principal themes of that historiography and offer a modest addition. That addition will be a re-imagining of how monastic women might have thought about the roles that sound and music played in their lives in the first few generations of enforced claustration. Based on circumstantial evidence from archives in Florence, I posit that even nuns with little detectable interest in music as a means of spiritual or emotional self-expression eagerly invested in their convents' acoustical environment and musical capacities; and that these nuns drew pleasures from the music-making they enabled that were quite different from the often eroticized pleasures available to those who gathered in convent churches to hear it.

Admission is free and all are welcome.