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Durham University

Department of English Studies


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Critical Polyphonies logo

Music and Literature: Critical Polyphonies

2nd July 2015, 09:00 to 17:00, Durham Castle

‘Music means exactly the way everything else does and at the same time may not mean at all and at the same time means in ways that nothing else can.’ (Lawrence Kramer, Interpreting Music (2011))

This one-day interdisciplinary postgraduate conference seeks to explore the myriad ways in which literature and music interact to construct meaning. In recent years, musicology has embraced new critical approaches, not least from literary theory and criticism, in order to understand music as constitutive of identity – gender, sexuality, nationality, race – and suggest radical ways in which music signifies through language and metaphor. These developments suggest that literary studies can continue to inform analysis of music in productive ways, while approaches from musicology can also stimulate fresh perspectives on literary works by prompting a reassessment of the way in which music functions in relation to the literary text.

The keynote lecture will be given by Dr. Ian Biddle (International Centre for Music Studies, Newcastle University): "Yiddish-English exchanges in literature and music in post-Holocaust Europe: Nostalgia and the end(s) of hauntology".

For full details, see the attached programme.


09.00-09.25 REGISTRATION

09.25-09.30 INTRODUCTION

09.30-11.00 PANEL 1: Textual Transformations Chair: JAMIE BECKETT (Durham)

  • GIACOMO VALERI (York): Rationalising Chaucer’s Song: Textual Transmission and Musicality in The Parliament of Fowls
  • JUDITH WIEMERS (Queen’s University, Belfast): Blurred Identities: The Threepenny Opera between Stage-Play, Musical and Film
  • KAROLINE BAUMANN (Freie Universität, Berlin): Digital Polychronicities: (Electronic) Music and Literature

11.00-11.20 REFRESHMENTS

11.20-12.50 PANEL 2: Musical Modernisms Chair: TOM SMITH (University College, London)

  • DANIEL MATORE (New College, Oxford): Ezra Pound’s Musical Science: Typography, Musicology and Acoustics
  • LUCY JEFFERY (Swansea): Musical Form in Samuel Beckett’s Late TV-Plays: Ghost Trio and Nacht und Träume
  • LINA FISHER (East Anglia): Transcending the Limits of Language: Music as Multi-Modal Expression in Ingeborg Bachmann’s Malina

12.50-13.50 LUNCH

13.50-15.20 PANEL 3: Music, Mood and Sentiment Chair: FRASER RIDDELL (Durham)

  • BIRGIT BREIDENBACH (Warwick): ‘Stimmung’: Conceptualising Attunement in Music, Philosophy and Literature
  • JOANNE BURNS (Queens University, Belfast): Music, Gender and Sentiment: Nineteenth-Century Allusions to the Songs of Thomas Moore
  • KATHERINE SKARIS (Durham): Affective Labour in the Musical Arts: A Study of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton, Mona Caird’s The Daughters of Danaus and Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark

15.20-15.40 REFRESHMENTS

15.40-16.40 PANEL 4: Music and the (Post-)Human Chair: TBC

  • LEANDER DIENER (King’s College, London): Flutes, Corts and Blood Murmurs in Early-Nineteenth Century Paris: René Laënnec’s Stethoscope and the Acoustemic Technique
  • FLORIAN SEUBERT (Bamberg): Constructing an Animal Society: Cole Porter Animal Texts in the Light of a Twentieth-Century Return to Nature Mentality

There will be a short break to reset.

16.45- 17.45 Keynote Lecture
IAN BIDDLE (Newcastle): Yiddish-English Exchanges in Literature and Music in Post-Holocaust Europe: Nostalgia and the End(s) of Hauntology


Conference registration is now open. Registration will close on Wednesday 24 June.

You can register online through our webpage. The registration fee is £9 for students (and unwaged).

For more details, including accommodation and transport, see the attached programme.

Contact for more information about this event.

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