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date: 17 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article considers the ways in which modern scholarship has read the castrato as queer. It critiques the unthinking conflation of castration with femininity, and thus with male homosexuality, and the heavy reliance that modern thinkers of castration have had on anachronistic ideas of castration anxiety. The discussion seeks to disentangle the tight alignment of gender and sexuality through the recognition of the historical specificity of castrati lives (and the resonance that castrato differences have for thinking historically about trans), pointing toward the elements of castrato identity that are amenable to queer thought, specifically, the disinvestment in hetero-patriarchal modes of production that can be called melophilia (or a love of song).

Keywords: castrato, queer, trans, gender, sexuality, embodiment, melophilia, castration anxiety

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