Musical Modernism and the Representation of Disability

MAR 31, 2017 | 4:00 PM



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue


March 31, 2017: 4:00 PM




Keynote lecture by Joseph Straus, Graduate Center. Modernist music is centrally concerned with the representation of disabled bodies.  The most characteristic features of musical modernism—fractured forms, immobilized harmonies, conflicting textural layers, radical simplification of means in some cases, and radical complexity and hermeticism in others—can be understood as musical representations of disability conditions, including deformity/disfigurement, mobility impairment, madness, idiocy, and autism. Although modernist music embodies negative, eugenic-era attitudes toward disability, it also affirmatively claims disability as a resource, thus manifesting its disability aesthetics.
This lecture is part of the English Students Association 2017 Conference: The Vibrating World: Soundscapes and Undersongs