Toby Young and Jennifer Thorp n elegy is a song for the dead, or, in the words of Jean Bethke Elshtain, a ârhapsody for something fading but with the power to touch us still.â1 An elegy talks to the dead in the belief that they can still hear our voices, our grieving. It interacts with them; it feels and hopes for love. The genre of elegy used to be exclusively female: womenâs songs sung over the grave. But over time it gradually transformed into something masculine: a method through which the deceasedâs property and power were transferred to a male heir. This gender movement is interesting and upsetting, taking even the power of grief out of the mouths of an entire sex. But this (hopefully) means that the genre can still shape-shift. It has been whatever gender it likes, and it can be both and neither. It is a space of power for any gender, any sexuality, to grieve, to come into the history of mourning and say, âI am here, I am vocal, I am extraordinarily sad.â With its twisted relationship to gender and to sound, an elegy leads us into a contemplation of queerness and voicelessness.
Women and Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture – University of Nebraska Press
Published: Oct 20, 2017
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