Exploring displacement as a theoretical paradigm for understanding John Joubert's opera Silas Marner

Vos, Stephanie (2009-12)

Thesis (MMus (Music))--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In a world of increased mobility, a growing number of people find themselves in places other than those that they originate from. While a strong case has been made in various disciplines for the experiences of alienation and disruption emanating from the politically tinctured notion of exile, this thesis argues that these experiences affect all émigrés alike, be it the consequence of forced or voluntary migration. It is this study’s aim to nuance the understanding of displacement and explore the ways in which the exile discourse informs a general, less extreme discourse of voluntary displacement with specific reference to the composer John Joubert and his opera Silas Marner. In the first chapter, displacement is theorized as a doubleness or ambivalence that is important in understanding creative work done by those who have been displaced and that is informed, in the South African composer’s case, by the relationship between the centre of ‘the’ art music tradition in Europe and Britain and its ‘peripheral’ practice in South Africa. The second chapter argues the ways that notions of nationality still inform thinking about composers and their aesthetic in a time that nationality is no longer a monolithic, stable denominator. This is done with specific reference to the composer John Joubert. In the third and fourth chapters, the focus narrows to Joubert’s opera Silas Marner (op. 31), and explores displacement as a theoretical paradigm for reading and studying of the opera. The third chapter discusses the choice of subject matter of the opera and the significance of Eliot’s novel as basis for an operatic text. Finally, the fourth chapter provides a brief analysis of the opera, its conception and reception history as well as a critical discussion of the ways in which notions of displacement is present in this work.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In ‘n wêreld wat meer toeganklik as ooit tevore is, bevind mense toenemend hulself in plekke elders as waar hulle vandaan kom. Terwyl die konsep van ballingskap, met sy politiese konnotasies, al deur verskeie dissiplines bestudeer en geteoretiseer is, argumenteer hierdie tesis dat die gevoel van vervreemding en ontwrigting wat daaruit spruit deur alle emigrante beleef word, synde die gevolg van willekeurige of onwillekeurige emigrasie. Hierdie studie stel homself ten doel om die begrip van ontheemding te nuanseer en die verskeie maniere waarop die ballingskapdiskoers tersaaklik is vir ontheemding, te belig. Dit sal gedoen word met spesifieke verwysing na die komponis John Joubert en sy opera, Silas Marner (op. 31). In die eerste hoofstuk word ontheemding geteoretiseer as ‘n dubbelsinnigheid wat belangrik is in die verstaan van die ontheemde se kreatiewe werk. Die verhouding tussen die sentrum van ‘die’ kunsmusiektradisie in Europa en Brittanje en die ‘periferale’ beoefening daarvan in Suid- Afrika word as bydraend tot hierdie dubbelsinnigheid gesien. Die tweede hoofstuk argumenteer dat nasionaliteit nie meer ‘n eenduidige, stabiele aspek in die beskouing van musiek en musiekestetika verskaf nie en bedink die maniere waarop nasionaliteit steeds betrekking op musiekstudie kan hê. Dit word met spesifieke verwysing na John Joubert gedoen. In die derde en vierde hoofstukke vernou die fokus na Joubert se opera Silas Marner en word die wyses waarop ontheemding tot ‘n lesing van die opera kan bydra verken. Die derde hoofstuk behandel die keuse van onderwerp vir die opera en die belang van Eliot se roman as operateks. Die vierde hoofstuk bespreek die ontstaans- en resepsiegeskiedenis van die opera, analiseer die opera kortliks en verskaf ‘n kritiese bespreking van die wyses waarop nosies van ontheemding in die opera teenwoordig is.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/1872
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