Call for Papers: Conference on Politics in Music and Song (Queen’s University Belfast, 8-10 September 2023)
Music at Queen’s University Belfast in collaboration with the network ‘Songs of Social Protest’ is hosting a conference from 8-10 September 2023 that will explore the great variety of musical and lyrical expression within the field of protest song.
Over the past few decades protest song has become a burgeoning field of academic study. Significant publications have captured the international variety of protest song, such as Dillane, Power, Devereux and Haynes (2018), Friedman (2017), Illiano (2015), Kutschke and Norton (2014) and Peddie (2020, 2012). Other work has been more nationally focussed, such as that of John and Robb’s The 1848 Protest Song Tradition in Germany (2020), Millar’s Sounding Dissent on Irish rebel songs (2020), and Lebrun’s Protest Music in France (2009). As well as ‘Songs of Social Protest’ (Limerick, 2015) other networks have arisen with publications reflecting both national and international perspectives such as ‘To the Barricades. Popular Protest in Europe 1815-1850’ (Warwick, 2018) and ‘Our Subversive Voice. The History and Politics of the English Protest Song’ (UEA, 2021). We invite papers from a wide international field and additionally welcome case studies on transnational protest song.
The conference also aims to incorporate the wide variety of disciplinary approaches within the field of politically inspired music and song. These range from Ethnomusicology and Musicology to Literary Studies, Politics, History, Sociology and beyond. Research from these areas reflects the variety of musical sub-genres and traditions within protest song, some of which can straddle the distinction between popular and serious artforms. These can include, on one hand, battle anthems and workers’ songs, satirical street ballads, emigration songs and spirituals and, on the other, songs from musical theatre and opera, poetry set to music, and national anthems. In more modern times this wide spectrum encompasses pop and rock song, punk, rap and techno. This great variety also raises the question of the aptness of ‘protest song’ as an umbrella term given that politically inspired song does not always actively protest, polemicise or campaign, but may be reflective or analytical in a socially critical way.
While the conference invites papers from any historical period, recent responses in protest song to themes such as de-industrialisation, globalisation, post-truth politics, climate change, war, race, and gender are particularly welcome.
Proposal length: 300 words. Please include a short biography (max. 150 words, including contact details)