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Medial effects: the singer and her voice in Willa Cather's the song of the lark


Straumann, Barbara (2008). Medial effects: the singer and her voice in Willa Cather's the song of the lark. In: Heusser, Martin; Fischer, Andreas; Jucker, Andreas H. Mediality/Intermediality. Tübingen, Germany: Gunter Narr, 59-73.

Abstract

How does narrative literature as a medium map the representational elusiveness of the voice? What are the typical narratives revolving around the singer? Does her performance of scores and libretti turn her into the medium of voices other than her own? Or does she transform the operatic stage into a vehicle of self-expression? My discussion of The Song of the Lark focuses on the ways in which Willa Cather’s Künstlerroman uses the voice as a trope of self-discovery. The singing of its exceptional protagonist, Thea Kronborg, appears to emanate from her unique self, her distinct ‘voice’. While the novel thus emphasises, and in fact valorises, her self-sufficiency, it can simultaneously be seen to foreground the notion that the voice always mediates between the individual and the collective. Thea Kronborg emerges not only as the textual effect of a multiplicity of ‘voices’, namely the myriad descriptions offered both by the narrator and other focalising figures. Her voice also absorbs American landscapes and dreams so as to expand into a song that has both individual and universal resonances.

How does narrative literature as a medium map the representational elusiveness of the voice? What are the typical narratives revolving around the singer? Does her performance of scores and libretti turn her into the medium of voices other than her own? Or does she transform the operatic stage into a vehicle of self-expression? My discussion of The Song of the Lark focuses on the ways in which Willa Cather’s Künstlerroman uses the voice as a trope of self-discovery. The singing of its exceptional protagonist, Thea Kronborg, appears to emanate from her unique self, her distinct ‘voice’. While the novel thus emphasises, and in fact valorises, her self-sufficiency, it can simultaneously be seen to foreground the notion that the voice always mediates between the individual and the collective. Thea Kronborg emerges not only as the textual effect of a multiplicity of ‘voices’, namely the myriad descriptions offered both by the narrator and other focalising figures. Her voice also absorbs American landscapes and dreams so as to expand into a song that has both individual and universal resonances.

Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, not refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > English Department
Dewey Decimal Classification:820 English & Old English literatures
Language:English
Date:2008
Deposited On:18 Dec 2008 15:32
Last Modified:11 May 2016 09:53
Publisher:Gunter Narr
Series Name:SPELL: Swiss Papers in English Language and Literature
Number:21
ISBN:978-3-8233-6457-3
Official URL:http://www.narr.de/details.php?catp=&p_id=3798
Related URLs:http://opac.nebis.ch/F/?local_base=NEBIS&con_lng=GER&func=find-b&find_code=SYS&request=000990561
http://www.sagw.ch/fr/saute/Publications/TOC-and-abstracts/SPELL-21.html.html

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