PAPERS Resources

AAR Annual Meeting
Denver, CO
November 17-20, 2018

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Music and Religion Unit

Statement of Purpose: 

The discipline of religious studies is expanding beyond linguistic rationality to include the importance of musical phenomena in the development of healthy religious communities and religious consciousness. Meanwhile, theological aesthetics is moving beyond the textual to include music as a resource in its own right for constructive and transformative meaning-making. Music, religiously speaking, is no mere adjunct to the study of sacred space, ritual, visual art, liturgy, or philosophical aesthetics; rather, it is a distinct field in its own right — with its own particular content, methods, and norms. By placing the relationship between music and religion at the center of our endeavor, this Unit seeks to serve scholars who operate out of this ubiquitous, but ironically unrepresented, realm of academic pursuit within the guild.

Call for Papers: 

The discipline of religious studies is expanding beyond linguistic rationality to include the importance of musical phenomena in the development of healthy religious communities and religious consciousness. Meanwhile, theological aesthetics is moving beyond the textual to include music as a resource in its own right for constructive and transformative meaning-making. Music, religiously speaking, is no mere adjunct to the study of sacred space, ritual, visual art, liturgy, or philosophical aesthetics; rather, it is a distinct field in its own right — with its own particular content, methods, and norms. By placing the relationship between music and religion at the center of our endeavor, this Unit seeks to serve scholars who operate out of this ubiquitous, but ironically unrepresented, realm of academic pursuit within the guild.

The Music and Religion Unit invites papers or panels on the relationship between music and religion in the context of contemporary or historical cultures. We would be delighted to partner with musicians and scholars affiliated with local institutions, e.g. University of Colorado, University of Denver, and associated music archives. Papers or panels which incorporate/demonstrate live performance as part of the session (or at other venues in the AAR program) are particularly welcome. We encourage proposals that relate to Denver or the Mountain West, and that connect to important anniversaries: 1968, 1918, etc. In particular we welcome submissions on the following topics:

• We are seeking individual or session proposals for a co-sponsored session with the Music and Religion Unit and the Religion in the American West Unit around the theme of "Music and Religiosity in the Mountain West”. Potential topics include but are not limited to Native American musico-religious and sonic traditions, Latter-day Saints musical traditions, the music of evangelical megachurches and institutions (e.g., New Life, Focus on the Family), uses and critiques of music, Latino/a religious music in the West, musical hagiography of the West in the American imagination (e.g., religious themes in cowboy songs), sonic environments erased from the American imagination, music and the Rocky Mountains, and local music institutions (e.g., University of Colorado, University of Denver, local music archives, Gospel Music initiative).

• Latter-day Saints’ musical traditions
• Evangelical megachurches and institutions (e.g., New Life, Focus on the Family), uses and critiques of music
• Intersections between Latino churches and white churches in the region
• Hagiography of the West in the American imagination, e.g. religious themes in Cowboy traditions, and sonic environments erased from the American imagination
• Music and the Mountains, the Sublime (e.g., Messiaen’s Des canyons aux étoiles...)
• Local music institutions, e.g. University of Colorado, University of Denver, local music archives, Gospel Music initiative
• Music in the Apocalyptic Mode

Anniversary category:

• 1968: Music and Social Protest over the Last 50 Years, 1968 to Present
• Edward Hawkins, “O Happy Day”
• Stravinsky’s “Soldier’s Tale” 1918 (live music performance?)
• Tyagaraja (b. ca. 1767-68) South India Karnatic composer (live music performance?)

Topics of perennial interest:

• How do we define “sacred” music?
• Music, sound and silence under religious interdict, prohibition of music and/or musical instruments under some forms of Protestantism, some forms of Islam, some moments in Judaism, some currents of thought in Buddhism
• Thinking about music: sound, time, and rhythm

Method: 
PAPERS
Process: 
Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members
Leadership: 
ChairSteering Committee