CfI: What is Queer Music Theory? (SMT-QRG)

„What is queer music theory? The epistemology of the closet and beyond“

After Eve Sedgwick’s Epistemology of the Closet, we are familiar with the marginalization/universalization dialectic that forces otherness into a minute space of irrelevance ‘for music theory, this arguably means stuffing ‘queerness’ into ’musicology’’ and maintaining that closet by unleashing repressing forces when queerness seeps into a more universal ‘music theory’. However expressed, the problematic of queer music theory is not merely one of definition, but also of epistemological policing. The political challenge of this project lies in the tactical questioning of epistemic boundaries, and the elaboration or invention of definitions of queer music theory. Can Schenkerian or set theory or transformation theory become queer? What about a Music Theory of listening, sound, and sexual embodiment – topics normally associated with ‘musicology’? What is the formalism of queer music theory? Is the leading note straight? Must queer music theory be grounded in sexuality? To what extent is the entwinement of hermeneutics and music theory a queer practice of ‘outing’ musical meaning through analysis? What queer affiliations can be found in music? What is the camp of theory?

SMT-QRG is organizing activities (which *may* include: conference panel, interest group meeting, online workshop etc.) around the focal theme of „What is Queer Music Theory?“ for 2014/5.

I spoke to as many of you as I could manage over the conferences this year. If our discussion struck a note with you, or if we have yet to meet but this project coheres well with your research, I warmly invite you to contact me (shinkang.lee at within the next few weeks with a brief initial write up of 100 words to let me know of your proposed research direction.

Gavin Lee
Chair, SMT QRG
Duke University

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