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Critical Theory for Musicology Study Day

  • Senate House Malet Street London, England, WC1E United Kingdom (map)

‘Musicology after Postmodernism’: Critical Theory for Musicology Study Day

Saturday 2nd July 2016, Senate House, University of London

REGISTRATION: Though the event is free to attend, it is vital that delegates register here as places are limited!

The full programme, including abstracts, can be accessed here: CTFM study day programme


9.30     Registration
9.50     Welcome from the committee

10.00   Session A Chair: Christopher Tarrant


Utopia, Science Fiction, and Magic in the music of Edward Elgar; or, towards an Elgarian reading of Deleuze


Walther’s Preislied and the Hegelian wound: Towards a Žižekian ‘rehabilitation’ of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger


Derrida, Shostakovich, and the Crisis of the End

11.30 Coffee break (refreshments provided)

12.00   Session B Chair: Jo Hicks


Butch Fatale: Becoming-Lesbian in Richard Strauss’s Salome Op. 54


The contemporary DIY Experimental Music Scene in Los Angeles: Metamodernity and Philosophical Hermeneutics


Wandering through the Snow: Adorno and Heidegger as a Response to Schubert’s Winterreise, D.911

1.30 Lunch (not provided)

2.30 Session C Chair: Samuel Wilson


Holly Herndon’s Platform: An Adornian analysis of twenty-first century computer music


Midwives and Madames: Mus(e)ic, Mediation, and Badiou’s ‘Universal Subject’


Subjectivity, Narrative, and Musical Form: Quilting the ‘problem’ of musical analysis

4.00 Coffee break (refreshments provided)

4.30 Keynote Lecture Chair: Nathan Mercieca


On the Uses and Abuses of Musicology for Life

5.45 End
Conference dinner at a local restaurant (tbc)




Call for Papers

‘Musicology after Postmodernism’: Critical Theory for Musicology Study Day

In association with the Royal Musical Association and the Institute of Musical Research

 2nd July 2016, Senate House, University of London

 Keynote Speaker: Professor James Currie (State University of New York at Buffalo)

In recent decades, the postmodern turn in musicological scholarship has prompted a productive interaction between multiple disciplines in order to answer questions of ontology, theory, and praxis that were overlooked in earlier dialogues. It encouraged disciplines to ‘embrace contradictions’ (Kramer 2002), to ‘absorb multiple discourses’ (Horton 2001), and to look outside of themselves to various other disciplines such as literary theory, philosophy, and sociology in order to ‘reconnect “the music itself” with the fabric of human life’ (Cusick 2001). Yet, as Berger notes, ‘the field opened up both thematically and methodologically to such an extent that no one knows what musicology is any more’ (1995). This pluralist notion that ‘everything is permitted’ (Žižek 2011) has led to a state of relativism and— perhaps inadvertently—cultural stasis, in which it is difficult to know how to move forward in either a disciplinary or a socio-political sense. This means that postmodern musicology not only loses sight of the very music that it aimed to reconnect with, but also obscures any potential for social transformation.

If this is the case, then how does musical scholarship connect to human life? How might it reflect current affairs, or deal with questions of urgency, action, or revolution? Is it necessary or even possible for musicology to address the concerns of the world today? We suggest a return to critical theory in order to investigate both the musical and social implications of these questions.

This study day aims to provide a supportive and friendly environment for students to gain experience in presenting work that may fall between disciplines in other research settings. We welcome proposals for 20-minute papers from postgraduate students in any discipline on any aspect of critical theory and music. We are particularly interested in proposals that address the above questions either directly or indirectly, as well as any of the following:

  • The effects of studying, listening to, or talking about music on critical theory
  • The effects of critical theory on listening to, studying, or talking about music
  • The relationship between critical theory and music analysis
  • The effects of critical theory on musical performance
  • Connections between music(ology) and theorists such as Heidegger, Adorno, Hegel, Lacan, Žižek, Jameson, Eagleton, Butler, Braidotti, Badiou, Deleuze, and others

For 20-minute paper proposals, abstracts of no more than 250 words should be sent by email to Please also include your name, affiliation, email address, AV requirements, and a biography of no more than 50 words on a separate cover sheet (Microsoft Word or PDF). The deadline for receipt of proposals is 31st March 2016. All those submitting proposals will be notified of the outcome by mid-April 2016.

For more information about the Critical Theory for Musicology study group please see our website: