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Sounding Real, Sounding Real, 0817317988, 0-8173-1798-8, 978-0-8173-1798-0, 9780817317980, , Studies in American Literary Realism and Naturalism, Sounding Real, 0817386769, 0-8173-8676-9, 978-0-8173-8676-4, 9780817386764, , Studies in American Literary Realism and Naturalis

Sounding Real
Musicality and American Fiction at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
by Cristina L. Ruotolo

Trade Cloth
2013. 184 pp.
0 illustrations
Price:  $34.95 s
E Book
2013. 184 pp.
Price:  $34.95 d

Examining American realist fiction as it was informed and shaped by the music of the period, Sounding Real sheds new light on the profound musical and cultural change at the turn of the twentieth century.
Sounding Real by Cristina L. Ruotolo examines landmark changes in American musical standards and tastes in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries and the way they are reflected in American literature of the period. Whereas other interdisciplinary approaches to music and literature often focus on more recent popular music and black music that began with blues and jazz, Ruotolo addresses the literary response to the music that occurred in the decades before the Jazz Age.
By bringing together canonical and lesser-known works by authors like Theodore Dreiser, Kate Chopin, Harold Fredric, James Weldon Johnson, Willa Cather, and Gertrude Atherton, Ruotolo argues that new, emerging musical forms were breaking free from nineteenth-century constraints, and that the elemental authenticity or real-ness that this new music articulated sparked both interest and anxiety in literature: What are the effects of an emancipated musicality on self and society? How can literature dramatize musical encounters between people otherwise segregated by class, race, ethnicity, or gender?
By examining the influence of an increasingly aggressive and progressive musical marketplace on the realm of literature, Sounding Real depicts a dynamic dialogue between two art forms that itself leads to a broader discussion of how art speaks to society.

Cristina L. Ruotolo is an associate professor of humanities at San Francisco State University, where she also directs the American studies program. She has worked as a professional violinist and holds a masters degree in music from the New England Conservatory of Music.

 “Sounding Real  is a remarkable book, a pleasure to read, written in engaging prose, by someone who is professionally trained in both music and literature and hence commands the material and the methodology of both fields—something that happens all too rarely in similar books.”
—Thomas Austenfeld, professor of American literature, University of Fribourg

“Critic and novelist James Huneker—subject of one of the very best chapters in Cristina Ruotolo’s breathtaking book Sounding Real—argued that to write about music is ‘quite hopeless.’ But to write about music in the context of American literary realism, as Ruotolo demonstrates, turns out to be not only possible but also thrilling. Ruotolo establishes convincingly that music was used as a major vehicle for literary realists and musical nationalists launching investigations of racial identity and sexual innovation, ‘Americanness’ and ‘culture.’ Teaching us how to reread (really how to rehear) landmark texts such as Sister Carrie, Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, and Song of the Lark, and introducing us to less familiar works by Harold Frederic and W. J. Henderson, Ruotolo puts music at the heart of American literature, where it belongs. This is interdisciplinary work of the highest order: it is bound to start productive conversations among and between scholars in literary studies, in American studies, in the emergent field of sound studies, in music history, and in African American and women’s studies.”
—Jeffrey Melnick, coauthor of Immigration and American Popular Culture: An Introduction and coeditor of American Popular Music: New Approaches to the Twentieth Century 

“Ruotolo’s interpretation of the ways in which music and musicality—as represented in a number of turn-of-the-century novels—reflect American identity, is intriguing, original, and provocative.”—Kerry Driscoll, professor of English at the University of Saint Joseph, Connecticut

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