Melting the Venusberg: A Feminist Theology of Music

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Overview

This book begins with a pointed critique of the foundations of the understanding of Western music: that music from Pythagoras to the Renaissance has been viewed as the source and model of order in the universe and in society. Unfortunately that order was rigidly hierarchical, so that over the centuries music reinforced established social prejudices, particularly those against women. Nowhere was this more evident than in religious music that was regarded by male ecclesiastics and scholars as the instrument of choice for taming hysterical female eruptions.

Through her mordant commentary on a rich selection of texts by major thinkers from two millennia of Christian theology, Heidi Epstein shows in the first part of Melting the Venusberg that music as the erotic embodiment of human engenderment has been ignored or suppressed, while music as the expression of transcendent harmony, order, and restraint has been extolled.

The second re-constructive part of Melting the Venusberg draws on ignored sources and lost tropes from the Christian tradition as well as on insights from the music and thought of historical and contemporary woman composers and performers from Hildegard of Bingen and Lucrezia Vizzana to Rosetta Tharpe and Diamanda Galas. Through this recuperative synthesis, music's
theological significance changes keys, as it moves beyond its symbolic function as divinely ordained, harmonious microcosm into more dissonant metaphorical registers. Those who have ears to hear will be delighted.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826416483
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 10/20/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 300
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Meet the Author


A native of Newfoundland, Heidi Epstein has graduate degrees in music history and religious studies from McGill University, Montreal, where she was also a church organist and choir director. She is currently on the faculty of religious studies at St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan.
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Table of Contents

Introduction : "musing the obscure" : the problem of music and meaning 1
Pt. 1 Critique of masculinist theologies of music
Ch. 1 Phallic rage for order : traditional theologies of music 11
Ch. 2 Sexing the semitone : music's historical engendering 32
Ch. 3 "Inebriate bewitchment" : harmony's eternal return 70
Pt. 2 Feminist reconstruction
Ch. 4 Critical counterpoint : arpeggiating a feminist theology of music 119
Ch. 5 Twisted sisters' theological grist : music as redemptive transgression 140
Ch. 6 "Foul Ooze" : new icons of abjection 160
Da Capo : "sing for our time too" : future theologies of attunement 185
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