89986 - Musicology, Philosophy, Aesthetics (LM)

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Docente: Maria Semi
  • Credits: 12
  • SSD: L-ART/07
  • Language: Italian
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Music and Theatre Studies (cod. 8837)

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student: - knows at a general level the problems and challenges that music, in the course of its historical evolution and in the course of its encounters with other cultures, has set to western philosophical thought; - learns how to use some lexicon and some concepts specific to musicology, also through the reading of several relevant sources. On the basis of his readings, of the professor’s teaching and of common discussion, the student is able to recognize the historical (and therefore contingent and relative) nature of the acquired concepts and learns how to contextualize them.

Course contents

The French Scene in the Eighteenth-Century

During the lessons we will tackle the question of the theatrical scene (both sung and unsung) in eighteenth century France, paying particular attention to theories of theatrical representation and of the actor's role. We will begin by examining the tight relationship between the monarchy of Louis XIV and the theatrical institutions, as it is this relationship that shapes the nature of the theatrical world in France at that time.

After taking into account the social and institutional background, we will move on to explaining the different forms that the theatrical scene assumed. Particular attention will be devoted to the reception of texts and practices of the italian Commedia dell'Arte in Paris and to the Foires theatres, which provide an extremely rich aperçu of the lively local scene.

In the end we will devote the last part of our classes to the polemics and controversies that surrounded theatre before the French Revolution.


All students have to read the three following books:


  1. Paradossi settecenteschi. La figura dell’attore nel secolo dei lumi, ed. by M. Accornero, K. Angioletti, M. Bertolini, C. Guaita, E. Oggionni, Milano, Edizioni Universitarie di Lettere, Economia, Diritto, 2010, pp. 65-278 (chap. II, “Teorie dell’attore nella Francia del Settecento”)
  2. Roberto Tessari, Teatro e spettacolo nel Settecento, Bari, Laterza (available in e-book format on the editor's website), chap. I & III (“Dopo gli sputi in platea, un teatro di statue affascinanti. Lo sperimentalismo di Luigi Riccoboni”, “La festa, il salotto borghese, l’attore. Istanze rappresentative della ‘philosophie’ illuminata”)
  3. Andrea Fabiano – Michel Noiray, L'opera italiana in Francia nel Settecento: il viaggio di un'idea di teatro, Torino, EDT, 2013 [fully]


The following books, by offering detailed studies of different aspects of French eighteenth century scene, can be useful to define the written assignement's topic and to develop it.

  • David Charlton, Opera in the Age of Rousseau: music, confrontation, realism, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2012. [Disponibile in formato ebook su AlmaRe]
  • David Charlton, Popular Opera in Eighteenth-Century France: Music and Entertainment before the Revolution, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2022. [Disponibile in formato ebook su AlmaRe]
  • Rebecca Dowd Geoffroy-Schwinden, From Servant to Savant. Musical Privilege, Property, and the French Revolution, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2002 [Disponibile in formato ebook su AlmaRe].
  • Renzo Guardenti, Le Fiere del teatro. Percorsi del teatro forain del primo Settecento, Roma, Bulzoni, 1995.
  • Joseph Harris, Inventing the Spectator: Subjectivity and the Theatrical Experience in Early Modern France, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2014 [Disponibile in formato ebook su AlmaRe]
  • James Johnson, Listening in Paris: a Cultural History, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1996 [Disponibile in formato ebook su AlmaRe]
  • Catherine Kintzler, Jean-Philippe Rameau: splendeur et naufrage de l’esthétique du plaisir à l’âge classique, Paris, Le Sycomore, 1983.
  • Catherine Kintzler, Théâtre et Opéra à l’âge classique : une familière étrangeté, Paris, Fayard, 2004.
  • Hedy Law, Music, Pantomime, and Freedom in Enlightenment France, Woodbridge, Boydell, 2020 [Disponibile in formato ebook su AlmaRe].
  • Rahoul Markovitz, Staging Civilization: a Transnational History of French Theatre in Eighteenth-Century Europe, Charlottesville : University of Virginia Press, 2021 [Disponibile in formato ebook su AlmaRe]
  • Claudio Meldolesi, Pensare l'attore, a cura di Laura Mariani, Mirella Schino, Ferdinando Taviani, Roma, Bulzoni, 2013 (saggi: “Il teatro dell’arte di piacere. Esperienze italiane nel Settecento francese”, “La rivoluzione degli artisti e il terzo «Théâtre Italien»”)

Teaching methods

Lecturing, discussion, group work

Assessment methods

To pass the exam there are two steps:

1. Written assignement on a topic related to the course, to be delivered one week before the exam's date.

2. Oral examination about the compulsory readings.



EXCELLENT:  students achieving an organic vision of the course contents, the use of a proper specific language, a structural and historical-contextual understanding of the studied works, the originality of the reflection

AVERAGE: mechanical or mnemonic knowledge of the subject, not articulated synthesis and analysis capabilities, a correct but not always appropriate language,

BARELY SUFFICIENT: students with minor learning gaps, use of inappropriate language

INSUFFICIENT: major learning gaps, inappropriate language, incomplete reading of the compulsory books.

Teaching tools

Audio, video, materials uploaded on Virtuale

Office hours

See the website of Maria Semi


Quality education

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.