Modernism on Stage

Organiser & Chair: Guylian Nemegeer (Ghent University)

The title of this panel, Modernism on stage, refers to the concept of ‘staging’ in a figurative sense. Modernist fiction stages music and sounds, as Irina Rasmussen (Stockholm University) tells us in her paper on James Joyce and Jean Toomer. Her aim is to look at the presence of music and sounds in modernist fiction and more specifically to explore how the authors imagine, articulate and manifest the effect of music and sounds on the body. A kind of response of modernist fiction to the transition from silent to sound cinema. The staging of sound is also referred to in Martina Turconi’s (University of Padua) paper, which looks at Giacomo Puccini’s operas, and in particular Tosca and Turandot, where the composer seems to consciously meditate and stage silence. Puccini represents the verbal silence of the two heroines through musical sounds, which are the only means capable of truly capturing and amplifying the emotions that words cannot reveal. The relationship of the modernist narrative text to sounds and silences has to do with what Daniel Albright in Modernism and Music called the modernist poets’ attempt to break down the walls that separate the text from its pre-verbal origins and its subsequent penetration into the reader. In this line, Sarah Bonciarelli’s (Ghent University) final contribution reflects on the role of sounds and silences in the work of modernist Aldo Palazzeschi through the iconic figure of the mute parrot.


Irina Rasmussen (Stockholm University) – Musicalization in Joyce and Toomer: Staging the Sound Panic

Martina Turconi (University of Padua) – The Manifestation of Silence in Puccini’s Tosca and Turandot

Sarah Bonciarelli (Ghent University) – The Mute Parrot. Reflections on the Role of Sounds and Silences in Aldo Palazzeschi’s work