Arts Building, Riverside, CA 92507

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Aurélie Vialette (Stony Brook University)

“Musical Philanthropy: The Working Class Spectacle”

In creating the workers' choral groups in Catalonia, the Cors de Clavé, the Composer-philanthropist (Catalan politician and composer Josep Anselm Clavé, 1824-74) presented himself to society as a public tamer. From their inception, the choruses were united by a rhetoric of communitarian love. I argue that the rhetoric of their motto (“Educate yourselves and be free, unite and be strong, love yourselves and be happy”) enabled the philanthropist to control and displace any revolutionary stirrings of a working-class rebellion. The Cors de Clavé staged the male Catalan working class and turned it into a spectacle to create an illusion of cultural equality. Instead, it fetishized the worker as a cultural subject and a fiction that allowed the creation of an entrance of the workers into the public sphere by suspending, through physically staging that fiction on stage, the socio-political existing tensions in the public sphere.

Aurélie Vialette is an Associate Professor at Stony Brook University in the department of Hispanic Languages and Literature and affiliated faculty in the department of History. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and specializes in working-class culture, popular music, social movements, gender studies, prison reform, slavery networks, and disability studies. Her first book, Intellectual Philanthropy: The Seduction of the Masses (Purdue UP, 2018), is the recipient of the 2019 North American Catalan Society book award. Her co-edited volume, Dissonances of Modernity: Music, Text, and Performance in Modern Spain (North Carolina Studies in Romance Languages and Literatures), was published in March 2021. She has a forthcoming volume with SUNY Press titled The Legacies of Slavery in Modern Iberia (19th-21st centuries) and co-edited with Akiko Tsuchiya. Her new book manuscript analyses penal colonies in the Philippines and is titled The Trial Run: Gender, Disability and Penal Colonies in the Philippines in the 19th Century. Vialette has been invited professor at Yale University and the École Normale Supérieure in Lyon, France.

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