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The Arts of the Prima Donna in the Long Nineteenth Century$
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Rachel Cowgill and Hilary Poriss

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780195365870

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195365870.001.0001

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The Prima Donna’s Art of Politics

The Prima Donna’s Art of Politics

(p.101) Chapter 6 The Prima Donna’s Art of Politics
The Arts of the Prima Donna in the Long Nineteenth Century

James R. Currie

Oxford University Press

This chapter seeks to address the present political tendencies within scholarship on the prima donna in order to investigate the strategic volatility of notions such as sublimity, excess, realism, transcendence, transgression, and narcissism—terms that have had a particularly weighted presence in the ongoing prima donna discourse, and which also remain sites of important political contestation within the ongoing problematic of capitalist modernity. The chapter points out that in the 1990s, scholars were concerned to focus on excess, while recently they have turned to a more sober kind of materialist disenchantment. Framing its argument within certain themes of contemporary political culture, this chapter questions this latter position, without denying the potential threats that themes of excess can hold for those (like female opera singers) they are used to represent.

Keywords:   excess, sublime, transcendence, woman as nature, politics, irony, disenchantment, parody, narcissism

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