Margaret Fuller, Beethoven, and Revolution in the Minds of Women

None at Strand Bookstore

Thu, Aug 22 at 7 p.m.   |   90 minutes

In this Olio, we will listen to musical performances by Groupmuse to both feel and think through what Fuller calls the “rapid transition; the spiral and undulatory movement” of music. How does music act on the individual and the collective to make one feel a part of something greater?

According to nineteenth-century concert-goer and early music critic Margaret Fuller, music born of great genius, like one of Beethoven’s symphonies, enters the mind, “develop[s] the spirit to new consciousness” through universal harmonies. Hearing some of the first ever performances of Beethoven on American shores, Fuller believed music has the power to awaken both body and spirit, and inspire a revolution in the minds of women. Fuller was part of a generation of women who were the most widely educated in music up to that time in United States history: American women had more hands on American-made piano keys than ever before, which marks a major shift away from their Puritan forebears who regarded any music outside of psalmodies and hymns as devilish. What separated her from her female contemporaries were her other accomplishments: Fuller was studying Greek, metaphysics, philosophy, and reading French and Italian literature. With a rigorous education, a right almost exclusively reserved for young boys at the time, Fuller would become an exceptionally accomplished intellectual, and she used her education to host a women-only Conversations series to awaken her peers.


In this Olio, we will listen to musical performances by Groupmuse to both feel and think through what Fuller calls the “rapid transition; the spiral and undulatory movement” of music. Fuller’s erotic experiences listening to Beethoven were crucial to her intellectual and sexual awakening. Likewise, playing music was important to many American women in the nineteenth century who were learning to engage their bodies to take up space and be heard. We will think about how music is linked to an awareness of space, body, and self, and how that awareness translates into self-assertion and even social revolution through conversation, listening, and community organizing. How does music act on the individual and the collective to make one feel a part of something greater?

Teacher: Christina Katopodis
Venue: Strand Bookstore

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Think Olio is here to put the liberation back into the liberal arts.

Classically, the liberal arts, were the education considered essential for a free person to take an active part in civic life. To counter a humanities that has been institutionalized and dehumanized we infuse critical thinking, openness, playfulness, and compassion into our learning experience.

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Olio: A miscellaneous collection of art and literature.