Kristin M. Franseen, "Imagining Musical Pasts: The Queer Literary Musicology of Vernon Lee, Rosa Newmarch, and Edward Prime-Stevenson" (Clemson UP, 2023)


Imagining Musical Pasts: the Queer Literary Musicology of Vernon Lee, Rosa Newmarch, and Edward Prime-Stevenson (Clemson University Press, 2023) by Kristin M. Franseen explores the complicated archive of sources, interpretations, and people present in queer writings on opera and symphonic music from ca. 1880 to 1935. It focuses primarily on the work of three turn-of-the-twentieth-century music scholars--philosopher and horror writer Vernon Lee (pseud. Violet Paget), biographer and program note annotator Rosa Newmarch, and critic and amateur sexologist Edward Prime-Stevenson. All three were queer, all discussed music both as part of fiction and nonfiction writing, and all worked outside of the academy. Rather than finding a grand unifying theory of early queer musicology, Franseen has closely examined three idiosyncratic writers who struggled to stay true to their ideas of intellectual honesty while also writing about music, musical figures, and musical listening in quite different ways. By studying each scholar's individual approach to constructing and interpreting musical and sexual knowledge, the book draws attention to aspects of their work previously neglected or considered only in isolation. Franseen meditates on questions of what constitutes historical evidence, what role should gossip and rumor have in nonfiction writing, and what should count as musicology, as she discusses each person's work.

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Kristen Turner

Kristen M. Turner is a lecturer in the music and honors departments at North Carolina State University. Her research centers on race and class in American popular entertainment at the turn of the twentieth century.

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