The aim of this research is to show how the “new” musicology differs from the “old” with regards to the creation of knowledge about music, which I refer to as “musicological epistemology”. If epistemology is described in the contemporary era as “justified, true belief” (Huemer 2002: 435), this dissertation discusses how McClary, acting as a “new” musicologist, has justified her “true beliefs” in order to create postmodern knowledge about music in the contemporary era, and how these “true beliefs” differ from “old”/modernist musicological opinions concerning the meaning of music. In this dissertation I have included short descriptions of how I believe the various categories of “old” musicology functioned epistemologically. In order to demonstrate how musicological epistemology has changed in the contemporary era, I have undertaken an epistemological analysis of four of McClary's core articles/musicological narratives included in Reading Music: Selected Essays (2007). I have chosen one article from each of McClary’s main subjects of discourse from 1983 to 2007, namely “interpretation and polemics”, “gender and sexuality”, “popular music” and “early music”, in order to ascertain the “nature, scope and limits” of the knowledge she creates through the writing of these narratives. I have found that McClary has incorporated a variety of postmodern debates into her musicological writing, which separates her, epistemologically, from the “old” musicology. This “old”/“new” musicological split is particularly established in my epistemological analysis of “The blasphemy of talking politics during Bach Year” (1987) in which McClary vehemently criticizes key aspects of the “old” musicology, as well as enunciates how she believes the “new” musicology should function epistemologically. The epistemological analysis of “The cultural work of the madrigal” (2007) shows McClary’s epistemology in its mature form. With regards to McClary’s epistemology, I have discovered that the knowledge she is creating is subject to the reader’s acceptance of the postmodern debates that inform her postmodern intellectual context (relativism, identity and deconstruction for example), which establish the conditions under which her work can be considered as knowledge. I have referred to this type of knowledge as “conditional knowledge”, specifically in the epistemological analysis of “Living to tell: Madonna’s resurrection of the fleshly” (1990). McClary’s knowledge is also subject to the contexts in which she situates these essays (a feminist context, for example), which I have referred to as “context-based knowledge” in my epistemological analysis of “Construction of subjectivity in Schubert’s music” (1994). These forms of knowledge admit a subjective viewpoint and are generally of a socially responsible nature. These elements clearly articulate McClary’s acknowledgement of her postmodern intellectual context with regards to Lyotard’s call for greater toleration and sensitivity in his seminal work La condition postmoderne: rapport sur le savoir (1979) (The Postmodern Condition: a Report on Knowledge), the essential aspects of which are also discussed in this dissertation. The micronarrative format of her knowledge also relates to Lyotard’s theories, as well as McClary’s open avoidance of grand narratives in her writing. Through my analyses I have affirmed that McClary has produced these postmodern forms of knowledge whilst adhering to the accepted principles of epistemic rigour. Postmodern theory has revealed a relativistic and subjective view of human language and knowledge. McClary, acknowledging this postmodern realization, has taken control of the production of musical meaning and is creating musical knowledge that is meaningful and useful to marginalized groups in the social and musical world.
Dissertation (MMus)--University of Pretoria, 2013.