CfP: Emerging Paradigms: New Methodologies in Word and Music Studies

Aarhus University, Denmark, November 13-15, 2014

The Word and Music Association Forum (WMAF) offers emerging scholars – mainly graduate students and postdocs – opportunities to present papers and to participate in a network of scholars who share an interest in word and music studies. WMAF was founded in 2009 under the auspices of the International Association for Word and Music Studies (WMA). The central event of the Forum is a biennial conference, held in alternating years with the WMA international conferences. We are pleased to welcome Sybille Krämer (Professor of Philosophy, Freie Universität Berlin) and Lawrence Zbikowski, (Associate
Professor of Music and the Humanities, University of Chicago) as the conference’s two keynote speakers.

The third biennial conference of the WMA Forum, “Emerging Paradigms: New Methodologies in Word and Music Studies,” will be held at Aarhus University, Denmark, November 13-15, 2014.

As a field of study, the question of the relation of words and music naturally places itself within the general fields of interarts and intermediality studies. The coining of the notion of “intermediality” is linked to the fact that the theoretical field has undergone a broadening from a concern with the relation between art forms – to the inclusion of communication forms
that do not necessarily categorize as “art” and therefore call for the overall term “medium.” The term “intermediality” has itself, in turn, been problematized by for instance Lars Elleström, who accentuates the benefits of studying “modalities,” shared by all media. Also, Jørgen Bruhn has proposed that “heteromediality” may be a more adequate word for describing the mixed quality of media.

Such terminological differences may have epistemological implications. Thus, the use of concepts such as “art” or “the work” risk seeming exclusive or normative while the concept of “medium” still lacks an established definition and is often very broadly applied; the broadest definition being perhaps Marshall McLuhan’s idea that “medium” amounts to all “extensions of man.” The study of words and music, as any inherently interdisciplinary research field, is characterized by a methodological multitude, and the choice of research paradigm influences the condition of the analysis in a tangible way. For instance, the study of words and/or music as “art works” is likely to limit the empirical scope to canonized/“classical” works and, as a consequence, requires the analytical object to be written representation rather than sounding performance.

Intersensory approaches, especially towards soundscapes, has received increasing interest in the aesthetic investigations of atmospheres (Böhme). As is evident in the proliferation of approaches that supersede traditional academic borders, such as Affect Theory or Sound Studies, interdisciplinary methods have increased; one example of such an endeavor is Mieke
Bal’s metareflection on the interdisciplinary condition of analysis in Cultural Studies. It would seem that insights developed in continuation of such paradigms would serve as a basis for further developing of the methods used in word and music studies. This conference thus aims to explore the rich field of current and upcoming methods and methodological problems connected to the study of words and music. We wish, in this sense, to “revisit” the research field and to take advantage of its diversity and productivity in examining possible new theoretical and methodological paths. Many basic problems of great relevance to the field have not yet been conclusively defined or do not exemplify the problem of analyzing words and music as a performative practice. The ambition of the conference is, through discussion of different approaches, to take a step towards establishing comprehensive and updated methodologies.

Paper proposals should be focused on theoretical and methodological questions on a metalevel, reflected in relation to specific sub-topics. Because it is a forum for emerging scholars we also welcome work-in-progress. All paper proposals should be of interdisciplinary interest.

Paper topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Travelling concepts in word and music studies. Are there terms, tools or conceptual breakthroughs in one discipline that might fruitfully be applied to the other? For instance:
  • Words and musicality: Words are in literary language often described or referred to as musical as well as music is discussed in terms of its ability to ‘speak’. How could such intermedial qualities be palpably described in analysis?
  • Affect and feeling in word and music studies: How can affective analysis be productive in word and music studies?
  • Literacy versus orality – visuality versus aurality: What are the theoretical and methodological implications of investigating words and music as texts as opposed to performances?
  • Word and Music- and Sound Studies: What are the theoretical and methodological implications of examining words and music as ephemeral sound in time? Can words and music be informed by the interdisciplinary tradition of Sound Studies, which engage with such areas as psychology, anthropology, cultural studies, etc.?
  • Word and music studies in relation to semiotics and cognitive semiotics.
  • Differing positions between national critical traditions.

Confirmed Keynote Speakers:

Sybille Krämer, Professor of Philosophy, Freie Universität Berlin.
Lawrence Zbikowski, Associate Professor of Music and the Humanities, Department of Music and Deputy Provost for the Arts at the University of Chicago.

Please submit abstracts of ca. 300 words plus a brief biographical statement (ca. 50 words) to wmaf2014.arts@au.dk by May 1, 2014. Please note that in order to allow adequate time for discussion, papers must not exceed 20 minutes.

The conference committee at Aarhus University, Denmark:

Ane Martine Lønneker
Lea Wierød
Jakob Schweppenhäuser
Thomas Bøgevald Bjørnsten
Birgitte Stougaard Pedersen
The Word and Music Association Forum:
Beate Schirrmacher (Stockholm)
Mario Dunkel (Dortmund)
Emily Petermann (Konstanz)

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