CfP: Studying Music (University of Edinburgh)

An International Conference in Honour of Simon Frith
Studying Music
10-12 April 2014 – University of Edinburgh

Music scholarship has widened enormously in scope in the last several decades, especially in response to developments in sociology and cultural studies. Previously-accepted concepts such as excellence, authenticity and value have become understood as social constructions rather than inherent or aesthetically autonomous. As a result, long-established canons have been questioned and the boundary between „high“ and „low“ culture become less secure, with questions of aesthetics becoming intertwined with questions of politics and identity.

The work of Simon Frith has played a significant role in these developments. His own career, starting in historical sociology and, in turn, based in departments of Sociology, English, Film and Media Studies and, finally, Music, reflects the increasingly inter-disciplinary nature of contemporary music scholarship. Furthermore, his parallel career as a journalist, critic and chair of the Mercury Music Prize poses interesting questions concerning the relationship between sociology and criticism, and between the academic study of music and the general audience.

This conference seeks to celebrate Frith’s contributions to the study of music and to evaluate and critique current orthodoxies in music scholarship (including Frith’s own work): Is the relationship between musicology and sociology still problematic? Has popular music studies managed to develop a convincing and coherent theoretical approach? Is ‚popular music‘ still a useful academic category? What new problems has a sociological approach to music generated? Is the study of music still Eurocentric and Anglicised? Does the idea of quality have any role in the sociological study of music?

We invite papers on any aspect of music scholarship which are in some way informed by – or pose a challenge to – Frith’s writing and thinking. Possible areas for discussion could include, but are not limited to:

  • Aesthetics and value
  • Music industry
  • Writing about music
  • The relevance of music scholarship beyond the academy
  • Music and politics
  • Critical appraisal of the work of Simon Frith

There will be a Keynote Presentation by Robert Christgau. The conference organising committee is comprised of Matt Brennan, Sara Cohen, Dave Laing, Lee Marshall, Angela McRobbie, and Peter Nelson.

Please send proposals of up to 300 words, for 20 minute papers, together with a short biography (50 words) of the author, to frithconference2014@gmail.com by 30 May 2013.

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