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Claiming Voice: Madalena Casulana and the Sixteenth-Century Italian Madrigal

Heere-Beyer, Samantha Erin (2009) Claiming Voice: Madalena Casulana and the Sixteenth-Century Italian Madrigal. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This thesis explores the ways in which Madalena Casulana (ca. 1540—ca. 1590) expressed her stated desire to overturn the misconceptions of sixteenth-century patriarchy that maintained that women did not have the ability to think and compose music as men did. Through an investigation into her life and works, as well as her philosophical and musical heritage, this thesis reveals that Casulana was not only aware of the gender barriers and stereotypes that made her position as a female composer precarious at best, but also that she sought to liberate women from their rigidly proscribed status. Examining the Greco-Roman roots of contemporary thoughts about biology and gender difference provides insight into the segregated world in which Casulana worked and explains the language of innuendo that permeated Casulana's musical medium, the madrigal. Her madrigals reveal a high level of training and creativity within the medium, but it is the way in which she utilizes her skill of representation through the madrigal that reveals her own voice amid the traditional tropes. Through manipulation of madrigal tropes, Casulana liberates the female voice from its traditional role as the conquered victim of male sexual fantasy, bridges the gap between the traditional associations of men as intellectual beings and women as sensual, and emphasizes unity and equality between the sexes.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Heere-Beyer, Samantha Erinseh65@pitt.eduSEH65
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairCassaro, James Pcassaro@pitt.eduCASSARO
Committee MemberFranklin, Don Odof@pitt.eduDOF
Committee MemberLewis, Mary Slsm@pitt.eduLSM
Date: 4 June 2009
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 9 April 2009
Approval Date: 4 June 2009
Submission Date: 16 April 2009
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Music
Degree: MA - Master of Arts
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: death; feminism; Galen; Madalena Casulana; madrigal; sex; sexual innuendo
Other ID:, etd-04162009-142915
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:37
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:40


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