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Music and Religion Unit

Call for Proposals

We welcome paper and panel proposals on all subjects that relate music to religion. The section is eager to cultivate scholarship in music and religion from a wide array of religions, time periods, and cultural practices. To that end, for the 2020 meeting in Boston, we are particularly seeking

  1. Proposals for a joint session with the Native Traditions in the Americas Unit on the intersection of Native American religious traditions and music.
  2. Papers and panel proposals on music in Confucian Traditions
  3. Papers that address the musical impact of the 400th year anniversary of the landing of settler-colonialist English Pilgrims at Plymouth
  4. Proposals for a book panel on Alisha Lola Jones' Flaming?: The Peculiar Theopolitics of Fire and Desire in Black Male Gospel Performance (Oxford University Press)
  5. The 100th year celebration of Charlie Parker’s birth.
  6. 50 year anniversary of The Grateful Dead’s American Beauty.
  7. The centenary for two pieces of Western art music with important religious resonances across the twentieth-century: Gustav Holst’s suite “The Planets” and Ralph Vaughn Williams’ “The Lark Ascending.”
  8. The Arts, Literature and Religion Unit would like to co-sponsor a panel on "U2 / Irish spirituality & popular music."
  9. Following the 2020 conference theme: how musical creativity and performance can be valued as scholarship within our field.
  10. Other topics of interest include music and mysticism; music in and among spiritual responses to the current global environmental crisis; how music is present in interfaith contexts; music and conversion; ethical perspectives on music and embodiment.

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.


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members

Review Process Comments

This worked well this year.