In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech in 2005 Harold Pinter said: “There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false … I believe that these assertions still make sense ... [in] art. So as a writer I stand by them but as a citizen I cannot. As a citizen I must ask: What is true? What is false?”
This dichotomy between the duties of artists (as well as humanities scholars) and of private citizens indicates why the arts and humanities find themselves at a crossroads today. The moral turn of the last decade, the increased focus on sustainability, equity, diversity and inclusion as underpinning all academic work regardless of the discipline, the increasing polarisation of our society, the relativisation of truth as represented by the post-truth mentality, and neoliberal pressures leave the arts and humanities between a rock and a hard place. Thus, we all must continuously explore realignments of our duties as academics and citizens. Like every generation before us, we have to find new ways to understand and answer the challenge posed by Karl Marx’s (slightly adjusted) eleventh Feuerbach thesis, that our work should not merely describe and interpret the musical world in various ways but also help change it.
This conference shall try to find common ground between representatives of the various music-related areas and different roles of this debate. Our aim is to provide a platform for productive discussions while exploring strategic options to address the disparate forces that threaten the foundations of both academic discourse and societal cohesion.
The following list suggests areas that proposals can engage with. However, it is by no means exhaustive – proposals covering other topics are welcome, too.
Truth and relativism in music and musicology
The impact of ethical considerations on methodologies and vice versa
How our (digital) tools change the ways we think and operate
Strengths and weaknesses of critical theory in the 21st century
Polarisation in the musical humanities
How objective can and should we be? Reason and emotion as subjects and objects of musicological scholarship
Intersectionality in music and musicology – the conceptual and practical interaction of ethnic grouping, class, gender etc. in scholarship
Re-balancing musicology and musical practice
The role of aesthetics in a context-focused world
Neoliberal concepts and practices in the musical humanities
AI’s impact on production, reception, authenticity and ethics in music
This conference will take place in person without a hybrid option. Proposals are invited for individual papers or sessions of three papers. Abstracts should not exceed 250 words and be accompanied by a CV of no more than 150 words. In the case of a session proposal the abstracts should be accompanied by an introduction to the session topic of up to 250 words. Proposals should be submitted in a word-compatible format (no pdf!) by 1 December 2023 to the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Notification of the selection results will be released by 26 January 2024.
Wolfgang Marx (University College Dublin)
Alexandra Monchick (California State University, Northridge)
Dillon Parmer (University of Ottawa)
Peter Tregear (University of Melbourne)
Helen Lawlor (Technological University Dublin)