Rebecca Geoffroy-Schwinden (Ph.D. musicology, 2015) wins Music & Letters 100th Anniversary Competition

Tuesday, January 29, 2019
Geoffroy-Schwinden was one of six winners for her essay "Music as Feminine Capital in Napoleonic France: Nancy MacDonald’s Musical Upbringing."
Rebecca Geoffroy-Schwinden

Music & Letters was first published in January 1920. With the journal's 100th anniversary approaching, Music & Letters conducted a prize competition during 2018 to find the best original articles in musicology. Geoffroy-Schwinden's "Music as Feminine Capital..." and the other five winning essays will be published in a special anniversary issue of the journal in its centenary volume in 2019, and each of the winning authors will additionally receive a monetary prize.

Of her essay, Geoffroy-Schwinden writes, "This microhistory situates the musical activities of Nancy Macdonald, a French student at Madame Campan’s National Institute for Young Women and Napoleon Bonaparte’s School for Daughters of Legion of Honor Recipients, in broader discourses about women and music in Napoleonic France. Drawing on Pierre Bourdieu’s theories of capital, it eschews a simplistic assessment of music as either constraining or liberating young women, by arguing instead that performance operated as a kind of ‘feminine capital’ accrued and then circulated toward tangible socio-economic ends. A feminine capital framework exposes the paradoxes inherent in female music-making and reveals how values about music were enculturated from girlhood to womanhood in France. This approach contributes to recent scholarship that challenges the rigid binaries previously defining women’s musical labor during the Classical era and inserts France into historiographies of women’s musical practices in the early nineteenth century."

Rebecca Geoffroy-Schwinden is Assistant Professor of Music History at the University of North Texas College of Music.