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Sounding Real Musicality and American Fiction at the Turn of the Twentieth Century by Cristina L. Ruotolo
  

Sounding Real Musicality and American Fiction at the Turn of the Twentieth Century

Synopsis

Sounding Real Musicality and American Fiction at the Turn of the Twentieth Century by Cristina L. Ruotolo

Examining American realist fiction as it was informed and shaped by the music of the period, Sounding Real sheds new light on the profound musical and cultural change at the turn of the twentieth century. Sounding Real by Cristina L. Ruotolo examines landmark changes in American musical standards and tastes in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries and the way they are reflected in American literature of the period. Whereas other interdisciplinary approaches to music and literature often focus on more recent popular music and black music that began with blues and jazz, Ruotolo addresses the literary response to the music that occurred in the decades before the Jazz Age. By bringing together canonical and lesser-known works by authors like Theodore Dreiser, Kate Chopin, Harold Fredric, James Weldon Johnson, Willa Cather, and Gertrude Atherton, Ruotolo argues that new, emerging musical forms were breaking free from nineteenth-century constraints, and that the elemental authenticity or real-ness that this new music articulated sparked both interest and anxiety in literature: What are the effects of an emancipated musicality on self and society? How can literature dramatise musical encounters between people otherwise segregated by class, race, ethnicity, or gender? By examining the influence of an increasingly aggressive and progressive musical marketplace on the realm of literature, Sounding Real depicts a dynamic dialogue between two art forms that itself leads to a broader discussion of how art speaks to society.

Reviews

Ruotolo's interpretation of the ways in which music and musicality--as represented in a number of turn-of-the-century novels--reflect American identity, is intriguing, original, and provocative. --Kerry Driscoll, professor of English at the University of Saint Joseph, Connecticut Critic and novelist James Huneker--subject of one of the very best chapters in Cristina Ruotolo's breathtaking book Sounding Real--argued that to write about music is 'quite hopeless.
But to write about music in the context of American literary realism, as Ruotolo demonstrates, turns out to be not only possible but also thrilling. Ruotolo establishes convincingly that music was used as a major vehicle for literary realists and musical nationalists launching investigations of racial identity and sexual innovation

, 'Americanness
and

'culture.'
Teaching us how to reread (really how to rehear) landmark texts such as Sister Carrie

, Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, and Song of the Lark, and introducing us to less familiar works by Harold Frederic and W. J. Henderson, Ruotolo puts music at the heart of American literature, where it belongs. This is interdisciplinary work of the highest order: it is bound to start productive conversations among and between scholars in literary studies, in American studies, in the emergent field of sound studies, in music history, and in African American and women's studies. --Jeffrey Melnick, coauthor of Immigration and American Popular Culture: An Introduction and coeditor of American Popular Music: New Approaches to the Twentieth Century Sounding Real is a remarkable book, a pleasure to read, written in engaging prose, by someone who is professionally trained in both music and literature and hence commands the material and the methodology of both fields--something that happens all too rarely in similar books. --Thomas Austenfeld, professor of American literature, University of Fribourg Ruotolo s interpretation of the ways in which music and musicality as represented in a number of turn-of-the-century novels reflect American identity, is intriguing, original, and provocative. Kerry Driscoll, professor of English at the University of Saint Joseph, Connecticut Critic and novelist James Huneker subject of one of the very best chapters in Cristina Ruotolo s breathtaking bookSounding Real argued that to write about music is quite hopeless. But to write about music in the context of American literary realism, as Ruotolo demonstrates, turns out to be not only possible but also thrilling. Ruotolo establishes convincingly that music was used as a major vehicle for literary realists and musical nationalists launching investigations of racial identity and sexual innovation, Americanness and culture. Teaching us how to reread (really how to rehear) landmark texts such asSister Carrie, Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, andSong of the Lark, and introducing us to less familiar works by Harold Frederic and W. J. Henderson, Ruotolo puts music at the heart of American literature, where it belongs. This is interdisciplinary work of the highest order: it is bound to start productive conversations among and between scholars in literary studies, in American studies, in the emergent field of sound studies, in music history, and in African American and women s studies. Jeffrey Melnick, coauthor ofImmigration and American Popular Culture: An Introductionand coeditor ofAmerican Popular Music: New Approaches to the Twentieth Century Sounding Real is a remarkable book, a pleasure to read, written in engaging prose, by someone who is professionally trained in both music and literature and hence commands the material and the methodology of both fields something that happens all too rarely in similar books. Thomas Austenfeld, professor of American literature, University of Fribourg

Sounding Real is a remarkable book, a pleasure to read, written in engaging prose, by someone who is professionally trained in both music and literature and hence commands the material and the methodology of both fields something that happens all too rarely in similar books. Thomas Austenfeld, professor of American literature, University of Fribourg

Sounding Real

is a remarkable book, a pleasure to read, written in engaging prose, by someone who is professionally trained in both music and literature and hence commands the material and the methodology of both fields--something that happens all too rarely in similar books. --Thomas Austenfeld, professor of American literature, University of Fribourg


About the Author

Cristina L. Ruotolo is an associate professor of humanities at San Francisco State University, USA, where she also directs the American studies program. She has worked as a professional violinist and holds a masters degree in music from the New England Conservatory of Music, USA.

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Book Info

Publication date

2nd July 2013

Author

Cristina L. Ruotolo

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Publisher

The University of Alabama Press

Format

Microfilm
184 pages

Categories

Literary studies: general

ISBN

9780817317980

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