Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

Analyzing how musical experiences inform identity, “Extreme Measures” describes the ways modernist novels use music to mark young female lives caught between domestic conformity and the allure of individual choice. Particular to this project is E. M. Forster’s, Willa Cather’s, and Virginia Woolf’s novels. All three use female musicality to emphasize how modern women expressed their emerging independent values by resisting, disrupting, and altering outmoded nineteenth-century classical music traditions. Consequently, these literary representations of nineteenth-century music carry twentieth-century atonal qualities, a feature which gestures toward these novels as modernist. In order to more dynamically signify women’s emerging habits of autonomy, or what has been coined the New Woman, these writers, therefore, relied on musical atonality as a signifier for modern women’s unconventional thoughts and expressions, which include vague, hesitant, and resistant characteristics. Thus, “Extreme Measures” concludes Forster’s, Cather’s, and Woolf’s musical representations act as narrative modes of modernist interruption that more precisely express women’s divergent interiorities. Here, music forms a central part in representing the modern nuances of early-twentieth-century female identity, measured through new, but subtle, musical methods that voice women’s autonomy and self-discovery.

Date

3-18-2019

Committee Chair

Kahan, Benjamin

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