About Tamsin Shaw

New York, NY

Tamsin Shaw (CBA ’15) – BA Cantab, PhD Cantab – is Associate Professor in European and Mediterranean Studies and Philosophy. She was formerly an Assistant Professor in the Politics Department at Princeton University, where she held the Lawrence S. Rockefeller University Preceptorship. She has also been a Junior Research Fellow at King’s College, Cambridge, and a member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. She is a contributor to the New York Review of Books. Her monograph, Nietzsche’s Political Skepticism, was published by Princeton University Press; she has subsequently written on figures such as Nietzsche, Max Weber and Richard Wagner, with an interest in the intersection of art, religion and politics.

Ballet and the ambiguous eroticism of music after Wagner

Wagner’s music was experienced by his contemporaries as viscerally, even shockingly erotic and yet his theory of musical expression seemed to him to require that the erotic human body, in the form of the ballet, be banished from opera. Shaw examined the cultural transformations that had to take place for Wagner’s heirs (Debussy in particular) to reestablish the relationship between music and ballet in an explicitly erotic art form without sacrificing entirely the sublimated meaning that Wagner had intended for music.