CfP: Musical biography: National ideology, Narrative technique, and the Nature of myth (University of London)

Institute of Musical Research, University of London:
“Musical biography: National ideology, Narrative technique, and the Nature of myth”
9-11 April 2015 – Institute of Musical Research, University of London, UK
Deadline: 12 January 2015

While musical biography has recently received scholarly attention through an array of insightful research, the sheer breadth of possibilities for the study of biography (and biographies) in relation to music means that the broad field remains rich in untapped investigative potential. This conference will provide a forum for consolidated critical discussion on both the content of musical biography (national trends and ideologies; myths and mythology) and its form (narrative technique and meaning). It will aim to open up interdisciplinary avenues of enquiry across a wide range of subjects and time periods, in the domains of classical music, popular music, and ethnomusicology alike.

In lieu of a single keynote speaker, a series of roundtables with invited speakers is planned.

20-minute papers (plus 10 minutes for questions) are invited on any aspect of musical biography that intersects with the conference theme, including (although not limited to) the following broad areas whether singly or in combination:

  1. National ideology
    a) Musical biography as national celebration
    b) National trends in the writing of musical biography
    c) Competing portrayals of the same subject
    d) Musical biography as reception history

  2. Narrative technique
    a) The role of narrative in the creation of meaning in musical biography
    b) Musical biography as a literary genre
    c) Popular versus scholarly biographies
    d) Aspects of the relationships between biographer, subject, and reader

  3. The nature of myth
    a) The creation, perpetuation, and refutation of mythologies
    b) Musical biography as hagiography
    c) Constructions of greatness, genius, and virtuosity through biography

Proposal for panels (4 speakers over 2 hours) are also encouraged.

Abstracts should be no more than 250 words and should be e-mailed by 12 January 2015 to Dr Paul Watt, paul.watt at and Dr Christopher Wiley, c.wiley at

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