We have a special treat for you this week at The Avid Listener: a second essay for the week, and this one by a student author! Last spring, Dana Gorzelany-Mostak held an informal writing competition in her Music since 1900 class at Rider University. I Skyped into the class mid-way into the semester and talked with the students about writing for a general public, how to develop a short essay, and how our editing process works. We at TAL looked through a semifinal group and chose this essay by Chris Hochstuhl as our winner. We worked with Chris through the editorial process over the summer and are delighted to now be able to share his essay, “Poor Unfortunate Gender Stereotypes: Gender Transgression and Masculinity in the Music of Female Disney Villains.” (Avid Disney fans will know that Chris’s title is a play on Ursula’s ballad in The Little Mermaid. Any Ursula fans out there?)
Here’s a teaser: “In the world of Walt Disney, as in any other fairy tale, the “happily ever after” each princess wishes to attain is threatened by a frightful villain. The Evil Queen (Snow White, 1937), Lady Tremaine (Cinderella, 1950), Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty, 1959), and Ursula (The Little Mermaid, 1989) are some of the most notorious of the female villains to populate the Disney universe. The music associated with these characters tells us how villainous they are. What we learn from their music, however, is not just that they are evil, but that they transgress gender. Composers deploy musical signifiers connoting masculinity for these villains, and in doing so associate these women with masculine-gendered qualities of strength, vigor, and independence…”
We at The Avid Listener are dedicated not only to providing you with great content, but also with supporting and helping to develop young writing talent. Do you use TAL in your writing curriculum? If so, we’d love to hear about it! If not, let’s talk abut how to integrate TAL into your curriculum!
The Avid Listener: Listen. Write. Discuss. Repeat.