Monash University

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Fading Out, Fading In: Investigating the Relations Between Epilepsy, Electronic Music, and Gender

Version 2 2017-02-06, 04:22
Version 1 2017-02-06, 03:56
posted on 2017-02-06, 04:22 authored by Melanie Chilianis
This thesis identifies and responds to feminist, social and historic questions concerning epilepsy by drawing on music as a mode of enquiry, thus producing new knowledge in the field of disability studies. It argues that epilepsy is a “minded” as well as a bodily phenomenon that can be understood through music analysis, including metaphor, figure and myth. Epilepsy is a phenomenon that is, in part, experiential and characterised by inconsistency. A key tension I explore arises between a need for the epileptic to find a sense of lived continuity, and theories that suggest subjectivity is always fragmented, emerging in relation to language and context. Due to this, investigating epilepsy calls for a multi-modal approach that can make sense of both the social history of sexism and violence that informs our understanding of epilepsy, as well as its subjective experience, such as its chronicity in the present. Case studies in the thesis synthesise electronic music practice, feminist theory, and Foucauldian genealogy in order to formulate a novel analytical framework. By refiguring epilepsy at a feminist theoretical juncture and by elaborating questions of feminine sonic aesthetics, the research, moreover, suggests new ways of conceptualising and practising music. This has implications for disability studies and the arts. A key point of departure for the research is my own subject position and this reflects on the difficulty and embodied experience of creating and performing as a musician with epilepsy.


Principal supervisor

Belinda Smaill

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Film, Media and Communications


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type


Campus location



Faculty of Arts

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