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2018 Southern Graduate Music Research Symposium 2018

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Reparations of a Cartesian Legacy: Structures of Gender in Verbal Notation

For the Borealis 2016 experimental music festival, Jennifer Walshe wrote a manifesto-like program note “The New Discipline.” Walshe’s program note demands an art practice situated on the acknowledgement of live bodies that perform/compose music. This call for reparation between the spilt of practitioner’s minds and bodies is a call for recognition of a practitioner’s full humanity. By binding a Cartesian-based binary of performer (body/feminine) and composer (mind/masculine) into practitioner, works using verbal notation’s reparative structure answer. In this paper, I ask how the reparation of Cartesian legacies within verbally notated works causes a formation of a self without gender.


I analyze the generation and exteriorization of self-reparation as a process of dissolving mind/body binary through attention constructions in Pauline Oliveros’s Breaking Boundaries (1996) and Jennifer Walshe’s THIS IS WHY PEOPLE O.D. ON PILLS (2004). I trace a lineage of Cartesianism through my concept of interior temporality— informed by Ricœur’s triple present paradox. I examine how a reparation of a Cartesian-self produces a self without gender.


My presentation connects legacies of gender and music by applying structuralist methodologies to verbally notated works. Verbally notated works are extreme examples of practices that appear in traditional art music. Therefore, in parsing the explicit reparation of Cartesian self into self without gender, further complicates our notions of how music can erase or perpetuate gender.

Earlier Event: July 11
Pauline Oliveros Papers
Later Event: September 21
Midwest Music Research Collective 2018