CFP: Nostalgia, Music and Music Studies

CfP: Nostalgia, Music and Music Studies
Virtual, Spring 2022
Abstract Deadline: 20 December 2021

Although forever inaccessible, the past tempts us precisely because it seems fixed and immovable. As David Lowenthal elucidates “…we feel quite sure that the past really happened, that its traces and memories reflect irrefutable scenes and acts. The flimsy future may never arrive; man or nature may destroy all; time may terminate. But the securely tangible past is seemingly fixed, indelible, unalterable.” One of the primary ways individuals and communities engage with the past is through nostalgia. As Svetlana Boym reminds us:

…nostalgia goes beyond individual psychology. At first glance, nostalgia is a longing for a place, but actually it is a yearning for a different time – the time of our childhood, the slower rhythms of our dreams. In a broader sense, nostalgia is a rebellion against the modern idea of time, the time of history and progress. The nostalgic desires to obliterate history and turn it into a private or collective mythology, to revisit time like space, refusing to surrender to the irreversibility of time that plagues the human condition.

Boym’s work has proven to be foundational for nostalgia studies, creating a theoretical framework that moves across several disciplines. This conference aims to bring Boym’s work and nostalgia studies more broadly into conversation with music and music studies. As a theoretical framework, nostalgia studies allows us to explore attitudes towards the past underlying both musicology and music composition/performance. It illuminates the ways nostalgia is used by creators and audiences, as well as the ways it affects and influences our perceptions of history, heritage, self and other. Guided by the work of Boym and others on nostalgia types (restorative vs reflective, individual vs. collective memory), this conference aims to bring scholars and artists together to deepen our understanding of nostalgia’s powerful presence in music and music making.

We are especially interested in: 1) how creators (composers and performers) engage with nostalgia and/in music; 2) how listeners’ engagement with music from the past can be shaped by nostalgia; and 3) how theoretical work on nostalgia can illuminate existing topics of interest in musicology, such as revivals, historicity and canonization.

Potential Topics include:
– Nostalgia in Pop Culture
– Medievalism
– Questions of Heritage and the darker side of Nostalgia (e.g., MAGA politics and music; Music and white supremacy)
– Nostalgic futurism
– Revivals (Folk revivals, Early music revivals)
– Covers / Tribute groups / etc.
– Nostalgia and Play
– Nostalgia, Music and other media (film, musicals, video games, etc.)
– Nostalgia politics
– Nostalgia & Music Therapy
– Canonization and Nostalgia
– Surface noise, old recordings, and the construction of meaning in popular retrospectivity.
– The “long ago” sonics of film sound.
– Nostalgia double-ironized: notes on camp and the past.
– Operatic aftertimes.
– Musics in exile.
– Symbolist aesthetics and the magic of pastness.

We invite submissions from artists and scholars at any stage of their careers, including graduate students, as well as individuals working outside of academia. We will accept proposals for a range of presentation formats, including (but not limited to) individual paper, themed panels, and lecture demonstrations. Proposals for presentations that combine scholarship and musical performance are especially encouraged.

Proposals should be no longer than 500 words in length and submitted to by December 20, 2021.

Conference Organizers
Elizabeth Randell Upton – UCLA Faculty Sponsor, Department of Musicology
Caitlin Vaughn Carlos (PhD UCLA 2021); University of Redlands, School of Music



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s