The department extends a hearty congratulations to first-year graduate student Mary Shannon on her first publication! Her article “Female Agency in the Chanson de Mal Mariée Genre” was recently published in UCLA’s MUSE Undergraduate Research Journal. MUSE is UCLA’s first undergraduate journal publishing student work in a wide-range of music scholarship subjects.
“Female Agency in the Chanson de Mal Mariée Genre,” analyzes various theories of agency and works of medieval Paris in order to demonstrate that although the representation of women in the mal mariée genre can give a sense of sexual agency and independence to the female speaker, this representation often varies in its application and effectiveness.
“This is my first published article, and I am excited and honored to enter into the scholarly conversation,” said Shannon. “Currently, I am working on expanding my previous work studying Ethel Smyth’s choral symphony The Prison.”
Shannon’s abstract for the article reads:
This essay examines the case of female representation in the chanson de mal mariée genre of the chanson de femme of medieval Paris. The genre depiction of an unhappy wife seems to suggest a sense of sexual agency. Multiple theories exist concerning the origin of this genre, including the possibility of its creation as a fetishization by men. Alternatively, some suggest that the genre is based on women’s songs that pre-date notation. These theories present contrasting views in terms of agency for the female subject. In the rondeau, Soufrés, maris, et si ne vous anuit, the back and forth dichotomy between activity and passivity presents a conflicting view of agency on the surface. However, this representation becomes clearer in considering the masking of sexual agency under a guise of passivity in order to maintain social norms. In the motet, Je me doi bien doloseir / Por coi m’aveis vos doneit / Docebit, this agency is more apparent through the juxtaposition of the male and female perspectives. The reversal of stereotypical binary gender roles allows the female speaker to possess more independence and agency in both the text and musical lines. Through analyzing these various theories and musical works in the mal mariée genre, I hope to demonstrate that although the representation of women in the mal mariée genre can give a sense of sexual agency and independence to the female speaker, this representation often varies in its application and effectiveness.
Shannon’s article can be read in its entirety at https://uclamusclgy.github.io/MUSE_VOL%202%20NO%201.pdf.