CFPs Postgraduate

Call for Papers: “Music and Literature: Critical Polyphonies”

Thursday 2 July 2015, Durham Castle, Durham University

Keynote speaker: Dr. Ian Biddle, International Centre for Music Studies, Newcastle University

‘Music means exactly the way everything else does and at the same time may not mean at all and at the same time means in ways that nothing else can.’ (Lawrence Kramer, Interpreting Music (2011))

This one-day interdisciplinary postgraduate conference seeks to explore the myriad ways in which literature and music interact to construct meaning. In recent years, musicology has embraced new critical approaches, not least from literary theory and criticism, in order to understand music as constitutive of identity – gender, sexuality, nationality, race – and suggest radical ways in which music signifies through language and metaphor. These developments suggest that literary studies can continue to inform analysis of music in productive ways, while approaches from musicology can also stimulate fresh perspectives on literary works by prompting a reassessment of the way in which music functions in relation to the literary text.

We invite submissions on any period or any literature in English or other modern languages, and from those using methodologies drawing on literary criticism and musical analysis. Theoretical contributions and submissions incorporating elements of musical performance are also welcome.

Topics might include (but are not limited to):

  • Music and literary form (e.g. leitmotif, serialism, minimalism).
  • Musicians in literature (e.g. George du Maurier’s Trilby, Thomas Mann’s Doktor Faustus, Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu).
  • Poetry set to music (e.g. the Medieval Lyric, Goethe, Stéphane Mallarmé, A.E. Housman).
  • Lyrics as literature (e.g. Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen).
  • The libretto as work of literature (e.g. Hugo von Hofmannsthal, W.S. Gilbert, W.H. Auden).
  • Musical performances in literature (e.g. the piano in Jane Austen, opera in E.M. Forster and Alan Hollinghurst).
  • Music and song in dramatic performance (e.g. lyric and aurality in Medieval and Early modern drama and masque).
  • Musical adaptation of literary works (e.g. operas on Medieval Romance, Shakespeare or Pushkin, symphonic poems on Shakespeare or Dante).
  • Allusions to musical works in literature (e.g. T.S. Eliot and Wagner, Joris-Karl Huysmans’s À rebours, folksong in Lorca).
  • Musical notation or illustrations incorporated within literary texts (e.g. Medieval manuscripts, Ingeborg Bachmann’sMalina).
  • The relationship between ‘New Musicology’ and contemporary literary theory.

Abstracts of up to 300 words for papers of 20 minutes should be sent to by 5pm on 8 May 2015. Please also include full contact details and a brief biographical note, and specify any audiovisual equipment you will require.

Contributors to the conference will be invited to submit their work to an upcoming volume of Postgraduate English, a peer-reviewed online journal based at the Department of English Studies, Durham University.

For further information please see:

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