GRAHAM, Jillian

PhD University of Melbourne 2009 Pages: 332

Composing Biographies of Four Australian Women: Feminism, Motherhood and Music

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[Abstract reproduced with permission of author]
This thesis examines the impact of gender, feminism and motherhood on the careers of four Australian composers: Margaret Sutherland (1897–1984), Ann Carr-Boyd (b.1938), Elena Kats-Chernin (b. 1957) and Katy Abbott (b. 1971).

Aspects of the biographies of each of these women are explored, and I situate their narratives within the cultural and musical contexts of their eras, in order to achieve heightened understanding of the ideologies and external influences that have contributed to their choices and experiences. Methodologies derived from feminist biography and oral history/ethnography underpin this study. Theorists who inform this work include Marcia Citron, Daphne de Marneffe, Sherna Gluck, Carolyn Heilbrun, Anne Manne, Ann Oakley, Alessandro Portelli, Adrienne Rich and Robert Stake, along with many others.

The demands traditionally placed on women through motherhood and domesticity have led to a lack of time and creative space being available to develop their careers. Thus they have faced significant challenges in gaining public recognition as serious composers. There is a need for biographical analysis of these women’s lives, in order to consider their experiences and the encumbrances they have faced through attempting to combine their creative and mothering roles. Previous scholarship has concentrated more on their compositions than on the women who created them, and the impact of private lives on public lives has not been considered worthy of consideration.

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