Courtesan's Arts Cross-Cultural Perspectives

ISBN-10: 0195170296

ISBN-13: 9780195170290

Edition: 2006

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Courtesans, hetaeras, tawaif-s, ji-s--these women have exchanged artistic graces, elevated conversation, and sexual favors with male patrons throughout history and around the world. In Ming dynasty China and early modern Italy, exchange was made through poetry, speech, and music; in pre-colonial India through magic, music, chemistry, and other arts. Yet like the art of courtesanry itself, those arts have often thrived outside present-day canons and modes of transmission, and have mostly vanished without trace. The Courtesan's Arts delves into this hidden legacy, while touching on its equivocal relationship to geisha. At once interdisciplinary, empirical, and theoretical, the book is the first to ask how arts have figured in the survival or demise of courtesan cultures by juxtaposing research from different fields. Among cases studied by writers on classics, ethnomusicology, anthropology, and various histories of art, music, literature, and political culture are Ming dynasty China, twentieth-century Korea, Edo and modern Japan, ancient Greece, early modern Italy, and India, past and present. Refusing a universal model, the authors nevertheless share a perception that courtesans hover in the crevices of space, time, and practice--between gifts and money, courts and cities, subtlety and flamboyance, feminine allure and masculine power, as wifely surrogates but keepers of culture. What most binds them to their arts in our post-industrialized world of global services and commodities, they find, is courtesans' fragility, as their cultures, once vital to civilizations founded in leisure and pleasure, are now largely forgotten, transforming courtesans into national icons or historical curiosities, or reducing them to prostitution.
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Book details

List price: $40.95
Copyright year: 2006
Publisher: Oxford University Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 3/23/2006
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 424
Size: 6.00" wide x 9.00" long x 1.25" tall
Weight: 1.386
Language: English

Bonnie Gordon is Assistant Professor of Music at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She has published on Renaissance music and culture as well as contemporary female song writers.

List of Figures
List of Music Examples
A Note about Languages
Spectacle and Performance
Making a Spectacle of Her(self): The Greek Courtesan and the Art of the Present
Cutting a Good Figure: The Fashions of Venetian Courtesans in the Illustrated Albums of Early Modern Travelers
"Notes of Flesh" and the Courtesan's Song in Seventeenth-Century China
A Case Study: The Courtesan's Voice in Early Modern Italy
The Courtesan's Voice: Petrarchan Lovers, Pop Philosophy, and Oral Traditions
On Hearing the Courtesan in a Gift of Song: The Venetian Case of Gaspara Stampa
On Locating the Courtesan in Italian Lyric: Distance and the Madrigal Texts of Costanzo Festa
On Music Fit for a Courtesan: Representations of the Courtesan and Her Music in Sixteenth-Century Italy
Power, Gender, and the Body
Royalty's Courtesans and God's Mortal Wives: Keepers of Culture in Precolonial India
The Courtesan's Singing Body as Cultural Capital in Seventeenth-Century Italy
Defaming the Courtesan: Satire and Invective in Sixteenth-Century Italy
The Masculine Arts of the Ancient Greek Courtesan: Male Fantasy or Female Self-representation?
Excursus: Geisha Dialogues
The City Geisha and Their Role in Modern Japan: Anomaly or Artistes?
In the Service of the Nation: Geisha and Kawabata Yasunari's Snow Country
Fantasies of the Courtesan
Going to the Courtesans: Transit to the Pleasure District of Edo Japan
Who's Afraid of Giulia Napolitana? Pleasure, Fear, and Imagining the Arts of the Renaissance Courtesan
Courtesans in the Postcolony
The Twentieth-Century "Disappearance" of the Gisaeng during the Rise of Korea's Modern Sex-and-Entertainment Industry
Female Agency and Patrilineal Constraints: Situating Courtesans in Twentieth-Century India
Tawa'if, Tourism, and Tales: The Problematics of Twenty-First-Century Musical Patronage for North India's Courtesans
CD Notes and Texts
Selected Bibliography
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