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Music and Religion Unit

Call for Proposals

The Music and Religion section is perpetually interested in panels that combine performance and scholarly reflection, and/or book panel discussions that help to advance the field. These ideas can be incorporated into any of the other ideas below.


  • The Messiah? Handel’s investment in Transatlantic slave trade, Quincy Jones Soulful Messiah (1992), music in and around the film Judas and the Black Messiah, and Black Jewish music.
  • Cosmic Mysticism, Introspection and Depression in early 1970s rock music: Nick Drake, Pink Floyd, Yes, Bowie, Stevie Wonder
  • Gospel Music and Black Women’s Voices (2022 will be the 50th anniversary of the death of Mahalia Jackson), and the availability of the film of Aretha Franklin’s Amazing Grace (also the 50th anniversary of that concert)
  • Theoretical and Theological Articulations of Music’s Meaning and Purpose from Asian and African religious systems – we are especially interested in Japanese Buddhist, Confucian, South Asian, African Islamic traditions (including chanting), and indigenous African cultures
  • Romanticism in the Austrian/German Sturm und Drang movement, particularly in the music of Haydn and Vanhal
  • African-American Music at the Turn of 21st century – T.D. Jakes, Biggie Smalls, Kirk Franklin


Topics not covered herein are also acceptable, provided they are directly related to music and religion.

Statement of Purpose

The discipline of religious studies has expanded beyond linguistic rationality to include the importance of musical phenomena in the development of 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