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Theses Doctoral

Minstrels in the drawing room: music and novel-reading in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Walter Scott, and George Eliot

Lynn, Andrew

"Minstrels in the Drawing Room" is an investigation of the representation of musical listening in the nineteenth-century novel. Theoretical accounts of the novel have tended to see it as a universal form, one that opportunistically subsumes all others as its represented content; descriptions of the novel's implied audience often interpret novel-reading as an essentially absorptive activity linking private reading to public belonging through an act of identification. For the writers I discuss here, however, musical listening is interesting because it is a rival mode of shared aesthetic experience that, before the advent of sound recording, was necessarily social. This dissertation draws on recent developments in the history of reading and media theory to describe how novels by three central figures of the European novelistic canon - Goethe, Scott, and Eliot - turn to musical listening to reflect upon the ways in which the absolutely open nature of the novel's mode of address is nevertheless prone to limitation. The dissertation thus complicates often all-or-nothing theories of novel-reading, offering instead a description of how novels model a distanced identification between reader and text.

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Academic Units
English and Comparative Literature
Thesis Advisors
Dames, Nicholas J.
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
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