The Popularity of Words and Music
22-24 November 2018
Haus der Universität at Heinrich-Heine-University in Düsseldorf, Germany
Keynote Speaker: Nassim Balestrini, Professor of American Studies and Intermediality at the University of Graz
The Forum of the International Association for Word and Music Studies (WMAF) will explore the ‘popular’ in words and music for its 5th Biennial Conference. Popularity and the ‘popular’ are phenomena of vast societal, political, and (inter-)medial import. From early approaches such as Adorno’s and Horkheimer’s heteronomous capitalist criticism to the less consumer- and more ‘prosumer’-oriented perspectives proposed by John Fiske and Henry Jenkins during the 1980s, the popular remains an ambivalent topic. Niklas Luhmann’s theorems that came to be used widely in the ‘pop theory’ of the 1990s re-emphasized the study of the popular as a key field of inquiry in critical discourse. In the 2000s, bell hooks’s work in cultural studies opened the field of popular culture anew, analyzing it as a politically charged ‘powerful site for intervention, challenge and change.’
Studies in intermediality and Word and Music Studies have also proven to offer productive ‘popular’ approaches to musico-literary experimentation. Continuing in this vein, our conference asks: What is the “popular” and what role(s) does music play in its construction? What is the function of the popular and is ‘pop’ a system? How can popularity be explained in certain historical and political contexts; how do race, class, gender, and ethnicity contribute to an understanding of the ‘popular’? What of the popularity of verbal art forms? How do they interact with music at particular times and throughout various media?
Researchers at early stages of their careers will present papers that engage with the popular, using a variety of methodologies and perspectives on words and music.
Any questions should be directed to the local Academic Committee: Thomas Gurke & Susan Winnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.