Women’s History Month Annual Lecture – “Pleasurable Diversions and Perilous Listening: Singing Women in Medieval Islamicate Courts”
Thursday, March 17, 2022
SJC Department of History; SJC Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Interdisciplinary Minor
Registration Required: https://sju.webex.com/sju/j.php?RGID=rff23b35cfe0804f77887c48ce0f8b0f3
The SJC Department of History and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program invite you to join us in celebration of Women’s History Month, on THURS MARCH 17, Common Hour, for an online lecture that will take us back 1000 years in history to learn about the Singing Women in Islamic Royal Courts!!
“Pleasurable Diversions and Perilous Listening: Singing Women in Medieval Islamicate Courts (661-1000 CE)” by Dr. Lisa Nielson (Case Western Reserve University, Fellow and Lecturer in Music) Enslaved and free women musicians formed the backbone of musical entertainments in the early medieval Islamicate courts, and their influence on music culture continued for centuries. Referred to as “singing women” (sometimes “singing girl” or “singing slave girl”), women musicians ran the gamut of elite courtesan and skilled freedwoman (Arabic, pl., qiyān) to enslaved musical concubines (jawārī). Along with women and foreign men, there was a class of cross-gendered entertainers, referred to as mukhannathūn (the bent ones), who dressed and performed “like women.” Starting in the 9th century, concerns about the appropriateness of music began to arise, in part owing to the excesses of entertainments at court and private houses of the wealthy. In this talk, Dr. Nielson discusses what these conversations about music and singing women suggest about intersections of gender, sexuality, and music in medieval Islamicate society, and, despite these complications, how women musicians were essential to the development of a sophisticated music culture.