MUS 132(S) Perspectives on Music and Gender: An Introduction

Ideas about gender influence almost every aspect of our daily experience. Perhaps because of their pervasiveness, we often do not realize how they condition our thoughts about the world around us. In this course, we will consider how music shapes and reflects ideas about gender in three different cultural contexts. In the first part of the course, "Medieval Desires," we will study the songs of the troubadours and trouveres, the Marian devotional songs of southern France, and the chants of Hildegard of Bingen. In the second part, "Dangerous Liaisons in Opera," we will see how composers characterized men, women, and their relationships in three operas: Don Giovanni, Carmen, and Salome. Finally, in "Love and Loss: The Blues in America," we will discuss the songs of Bessie Smith, Ethel Waters, and Billie Holliday and consider how gender issues interact with commercial forces and ideas about race. Grades will be assigned based on classroom participation and three short papers.
No musical background or prerequisites required.