Larsen as a Lens: the Male Gaze and the Female Voice Open Access

Gentile, Cloe Lindsay (Fall 2017)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/rr171z280?locale=en
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Abstract

This paper extends Laura Mulvey's theory of the male gaze to art song repertoire. A feminist film theorist, Mulvey asserts that the normalization and omnipresence of masculine perspectives places women as objects of the male's attention, and in turn creates a male/female, subject/object, active/passive binary structure that manifests in and is replicated by cinema and literature. This paper will discuss the prevalence of the male gaze in art song, and the ways in which female composers and female poets have subverted its negative effects and created agency for the female voice: it is a vocal response to the very social structure that has made an attempt to silence the female voice.

Female composers are powerful catalysts for change, and this paper will consider Libby Larsen as a prime example of the subversive strength that lies in collaboration between female composer and poet. Larsen engages in a careful selection of texts by female poets that makes her art songs unique and significant developments in the reconstruction of male-dominated representations of women in music. This paper will provide varying levels of analysis on three groundbreaking songs and song cycles that illustrate a sovereign female mind and body, and present listeners with a multi-faceted, multi-dimensional view of the female and her experience in a way art song has rarely seen. These three works are Larsen's The Birth Project, Center Field Girl, and a more in-depth discussion of De Toda la Eternidad with text by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, whose life and work is given much attention in this paper.

Table of Contents

Purpose & Synopsis..........................................................................................2

Theoretical Framework, [His]tory vs. Her Story....................................................4

Stories of 'Unheard-of Songs'............................................................................22

Sor Juana's Story.............................................................................................32

A Story without an End.....................................................................................53

Works Cited.....................................................................................................54

Appendix: Supplemental Psychological Studies of the Male Gaze.............................56

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