Flights of Fancy

Judith A. Peraino

in Listening to the Sirens

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2005 | ISBN: 9780520215870
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520921740 | DOI:
Flights of Fancy

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This chapter traces the deployment of music in technologies of power, technologies that Foucault argues became specifically centered on categorizing and controlling sexuality after the seventeenth century. It also examines a wide array of music—seventeenth-century English catches, a Roman cantata by George Frideric Handel, rock songs performed by Queen, Marilyn Manson, and within the plays-turned-movie-musicals The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Hedwig and the Angry Inch—finding ways in which music has made a space for self-conscious self-transformations that interrupt masculinity and its patriarchal regulation of sexuality. The musical compositions, performances, and interpretations in the chapter are about coming out, not into tidy identities through instituted channels, but rather into the messy contestations of sex and gender. The chapter focuses specifically on musical examples on either end of what might be called the “epoch of sexual discourse”—when, as Foucault points out, modern societies dedicated themselves to speaking of [sex] ad infinitum, while exploiting it as the secret.

Keywords: technology of power; sexual discourse; self-conscious; seventeenth-century music; self-transformations

Chapter.  23090 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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