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Dr Jenny Cubin

Research student

Thesis Title

Where the waves meet the sky: Virginia Woolf, Kate Bush, and the expression of musical androgyny

Thesis Outline

My research develops a practice of 'listening out' to androgynous expression in popular music to explore the potential of androgyny beyond the specificity of a sexed/gendered body. Focussing on textual strategies, I conduct a comparative analysis of Virginia Woolf's novel The Waves (1931) and Kate Bush's song cycle A Sky of Honey (2005) to identify the expression of androgyny in both musical and non-musical elements of a song. Prioritising listening as an approach to intermedial study, I cultivate a dialogue with and between the texts to create an interpretative framework that expands existing approaches to androgyny in popular music studies. My research is situated amidst wider issues concerning musical performance in relation to subjectivity, consciousness, sexuality, gender fluidity, multiplicity, sound, listening and expression. I am also interested in how the 'doing of' research might contribute towards the overall process of conceptual engagement and reformulation.

Research overview

Broadly, I am interested in the relationship between music, expressions of self and practices of listening. In exploring links between artistic mediums, I ask questions about the cultural investment in gender and identity, working to open a space for alternative expressions of subjectivity and being. The connections between music, sound, listening and self are thematic in my research, particularly as an articulation of wider cultural and philosophical narratives and revolutions. I find the problem of meaning a preoccupation; how meaning is formed, reformed, manipulated and expressed through musical performance. 


BA Hons Music, International Centre for Music Studies, Newcastle University

MLitt Music, International Centre for Music Studies, Newcastle University, beneficiary of The Dame Florence Hilda Yates Studentship

Supervised By

Debra Ferreday and Nicholas Gebhardt

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