Fulcher, Jane F.

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Fulcher, Jane F.


Education: Columbia University, M.A., 1974, Ph.D., 1977.


Office—School of Music, Indiana University at Bloomington, Bloomington, IN 47405-2200.


Indiana University at Bloomington, Bloomington, professor of music. École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris, visiting professor.


Fellow, American Council of Learned Societies, National Endowment for the Humanities, Institute for Advanced Study, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, and Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin.


The Nation's Image: French Grand Opera as Politics and Politicized Art, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1987.

French Cultural Politics and Music: From the Dreyfus Affair to the First World War, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1999.

(Editor) Debussy and His World, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 2001.

The Composer as Intellectual: Music and Ideology in France, 1914-1940, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2005.

Contributor to periodicals, including Musical Quarterly, Stanford French Review, Revue internationale de la musique française, Nineteenth-Century Music, Cambridge Opera Journal, Acta musicologica, Actes de la Recherche en Sciences Sociales, and Annales.


In The Nation's Image: French Grand Opera as Politics and Politicized Art, Jane F. Fulcher discusses the works of Auber, Meyerbeer, and Halevy produced during the years of grand opera from 1828 to 1849. Fulcher concentrates on five politically influential works: La Muette de Portici by Auber; Robert le Diable, Les Huguenots, and Le Prophete by Meyerbeer; and La Juive by Halevy. Fulcher explores politics and finances as they impacted the conception, creation, production, and reception of these works. Paul Preston wrote in the Times Literary Supplement that Fulcher's thesis, "and indeed the flavour of her prose style, are illustrated by the assertion that the nature and the meaning of French grand opera, ‘or the signifying process of this body of works, was the product of a complex interchange between the artistic product and its institutional frame.’"

Preston said that there is nothing unusual about a claim that theater was defined by society but said that Fulcher "is, however, setting out to challenge the conventional marxisant view of the Paris Opera as a private business catering to a newly ascendant bourgeois audience." Fulcher challenges the assumption that the Opera provided the opulent productions to entertain and amuse the audience with no intent to challenge their beliefs. Preston wrote that Fulcher "rejects this as assuming a passive reception of works which reflected its values. Her purpose is rather to show that the Opera was a subtly used tool of the State, that State financing continued on a major scale after privatization in 1830 and that official intervention significantly affected both the development of the genre and the audience's perceptions."

J. Rayburn noted in Choice that American critics are at a disadvantage in considering these works. Robert le Diable was last performed at the Metropolitan Opera in 1883-84, La Muette de Portici in 1886-87, and Les Huguenots in 1915. Le Prophete was produced at the Met in 1976-77 and 1979-80. No recordings of the complete La Muette de Portici and Robert le Diable are available, and only one recording of each of the remaining operas is in print. Rayburn called the book's documentation "extraordinary: incredibly detailed notes, appendix of plot synopses, bibliography, index, plates."

William Weber wrote in the American Historical Review that The Nation's Image "is by far the best recent example of the growing appreciation of social and cultural history by musicologists." Weber said Fulcher "has become extremely well read in the newer kinds of social history and theory, learning how to look at culture using both political and semiological concepts, and has come up with a way of talking about opera in context that is a major contribution to cultural history."

In French Cultural Politics and Music: From the Dreyfus Affair to the First World War, Fulcher continues her examination of the effect of a politicized musical culture on composers such as Debussy, Satie, Charpentier, Magnard, and d'Indy. Drawing from French history, political anthropology, sociology, and literary theory, Fulcher shows how nationalists employed educational institutions, critics, concerts, and lectures to carry their message and how the Left and the Republic responded. French Cultural Politics and Music spans the years from 1898 to 1914.



American Historical Review, December, 1988, William Weber, review of The Nation's Image: French Grand Opera as Politics and Politicized Art, p. 1343.

Choice, September, 1987, J. Rayburn, review of The Nation's Image, p. 140.

Times Literary Supplement, April 15, 1988, Paul Preston, review of The Nation's Image, p. 426.