"Playing Queer and Performing Gender at the Turn of the Eighteenth Century: The Unconventional Life, Voice, and Body of Julie D’Aubigny Maupin" brings historical research into dialogue with current views on gender-non-conforming people, including the latest research on the voice as a gendered phenomenon.
The late seventeenth century in Western Europe is an intriguing period for queer historians: the imagined boundaries between genders, sexual orientations, and even biological sexes were considered far more permeable than we might expect of such a patriarchal society. I look to this era not to find a perfect reflection of my own queer non-binary identity, but to explore the culturally-contingent nature of all understandings of gender. At the centre of my research is seventeenth-century opera singer Julie d’Aubigny Maupin. Maupin was gender-non-conforming in her outward appearance, openly involved with lovers of all genders, and was an expert fencer and duellist. Simultaneously an outstanding exception to the conventions of gender in her day, and an example of the fluid possibilities of gender at the turn of the eighteenth century, Maupin serves as the case study through which I explore the ever-shifting perceptions of queer and gender-non-conforming people in this era.
"In the #MeToo era, which began in its current mainstream iteration in 2017, one might expect Così fan tutte to be among the many operas up for reevaluation. However, conventional productions still tend to present Così as a lighthearted romp, without addressing the troubling instances of coercion and misogyny.... What if we placed the opera's libretto in conversation with contemporary eighteenth-century views on women's sexuality and consent? Might we discover resonances within the text itself that give us a glimpse beyond the seductive veil of Mozart's score?"