Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Music

Major Professor

Rachel M. Golden

Committee Members

Leslie C. Gay Jr., Dorothy M. Habel


This thesis examines musico-dramatic activities centered at the Spanish viceregal court of Naples during the years 1608-1630 and positions them as reflective of shifting socio-political practices occurring in the cultural milieu of the city in the seventeenth century. I argue that three spectacles written by the writer and courtier Giambattista Basile expose emergent Neapolitan identities within the colonial society of Spanish-occupied Naples. Utilizing Mary Louise Pratt’s (1991) concept of the contact zone, I read these works as instances of autoethnography, a medium involving a conscious blending of forms and idioms, necessitating both negotiation and collaboration between cultures of the occupant and occupied. Within the contact zone of Naples, mythology, history, and lived experience coalesced into a shared phenomenology of the city, creating an integrative soundscape where Neapolitans of multiple social spheres interacted through spectacle. In his writings, Basile sought to extend the rhythms of this contact zone, performing his Neapolitan identity in ways that both glorified the existing structures of power and offered liminal sites where voices of alterity might resonate. Similarly, in each of these spectacles, Neapolitans of multiple social spheres raised their voices and asserted their place on the contested stage of the viceregal theatre. Early modern Neapolitans were thus not merely colonially oppressed peoples subject to a foreign ruler, but were rather active agents in defining and expanding their own field of play. In the seventeenth century, music, spectacle, and identity proved essential to being Neapolitan, providing a means to negotiate the place of Naples in mezzo.

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