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A Queer Organology of the Pedal Harp

A Queer Organology of the Pedal Harp A Queer Organology of the Pedal Harp Henry Spiller n the 2013 fi lm Philomena, the title character (played by Judi Dench) searches for the illegitimate son she gave up for adoption in Ireland many years before. IWith the help of a journalist, she learns her son was taken in by Americans and grew up in Washington, DC. Her hopes for a reunion are dashed, however, when she discovers that her son died some years previously of complications from AIDS. The journalist tries to cheer Philomena, showing her an old photograph that depicts the son wearing a harp pin on his lapel. The son must have known and cared about his Irish heritage, the journalist insists, to display this iconic symbol of Ireland. Philomena dismisses him curtly: “Well, perhaps he played the harp. He was gay.” Modern American viewers are not surprised by Philomena’s casual equation of men who play the harp to homosexuality or by the notion that the harp might be more a gay symbol than an Irish one. An association of harps with homosexu- ality emerged early in the twentieth century. Anke Johannmeyer writes that E. M. Forster symbolizes a character’s latent homosexual desire (as well http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Women and Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture University of Nebraska Press

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Publisher
University of Nebraska Press
Copyright
Copyright © Suzanne G. Cusick
ISSN
1553-0612

Abstract

A Queer Organology of the Pedal Harp Henry Spiller n the 2013 fi lm Philomena, the title character (played by Judi Dench) searches for the illegitimate son she gave up for adoption in Ireland many years before. IWith the help of a journalist, she learns her son was taken in by Americans and grew up in Washington, DC. Her hopes for a reunion are dashed, however, when she discovers that her son died some years previously of complications from AIDS. The journalist tries to cheer Philomena, showing her an old photograph that depicts the son wearing a harp pin on his lapel. The son must have known and cared about his Irish heritage, the journalist insists, to display this iconic symbol of Ireland. Philomena dismisses him curtly: “Well, perhaps he played the harp. He was gay.” Modern American viewers are not surprised by Philomena’s casual equation of men who play the harp to homosexuality or by the notion that the harp might be more a gay symbol than an Irish one. An association of harps with homosexu- ality emerged early in the twentieth century. Anke Johannmeyer writes that E. M. Forster symbolizes a character’s latent homosexual desire (as well

Journal

Women and Music: A Journal of Gender and CultureUniversity of Nebraska Press

Published: Sep 4, 2019

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