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Music Britain WW1 2017 : A Great Divide or a Longer Nineteenth Century? Music, Britain and the First World War


When Jan 21, 2017 - Jan 21, 2017
Where Durham University, UK
Submission Deadline Sep 1, 2016
Notification Due Oct 1, 2016
Categories    music   world war 1   british music

Call For Papers

Keynote Address
‘Disruption or Continuity? Elgar’s Cello Concerto and the Modern Romantic Ideal’
Charles Edward McGuire (Oberlin College)

Call for Papers

Paul Fussell’s The Great War and Modern Memory (1975) casts the First World War as the birth of the Modern psyche for Britons. Through analysis of war literature and soldiers’ life writing, he argues the cataclysm of the war evinced a rupture with the clear moral standards, innocence, traditional artistic representations, and ways of constructing memory of pre-1914 Britain. In his “Modern” post-1914 Britain, disorientation, alienation, and irony become the dominant modes of representation. In contrast, Jay Winter, in Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning: The Great War in European Cultural History (1995), argues historical inquiry into the responses to the First World War have over-emphasized the progressive, Modernist responses, and in the process have ignored the traditional motifs in the myriad of responses to the war. He writes ‘this vigorous mining of eighteenth and nineteenth-century images and metaphors to accommodate expressions of mourning is one central reason why it is unacceptable to see the Great War as the moment when “modern memory” replaced something else, something timeworn and discredited, which (following contemporaries) I have called “tradition.”’ These two influential viewpoints have structured much of the subsequent discourse on the First World War coming from the disciplines of literature and history in the last several decades; it however has received little attention within music.

This conference aims to bring to music this crucial framework for understanding artistic and cultural responses to the First World War. We seek papers that explore these themes of rupture/ disillusionment and “mining of nineteenth-century” modes of representation/ tradition within the context of musical life throughout the British Empire. Participants from a range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives that engage with music are particularly welcome.

Possible topics on these rupture/ tradition themes are (but are not limited to):

1. How did British art music composers react to the war? Do we see rupture with the past or continuation of nineteenth-century practices?

2. How can we understand British Musical Modernism within this dichotomy of rupture/ tradition? How does it compare with European Musical Modernism? In what ways can we understand the Pastoral in these contexts?

3. What bearing does this rupture/ tradition dichotomy have on the historiography of British music and the notion of the long nineteenth-century?

4. In what ways did popular music—whether repertoire, performers, or the industry—change because of the war? In what ways did it carry on Edwardian and Victorian traditions?

5. In what ways did musical life in Britain help define, blur, or shatter traditional boundaries between
• the home and war fronts?
• wartime public and private spaces?
• civilians and soldiers?
• within the army (officers and non-ranking men, wounded and healthy)?
• social classes?
• men and women?
• the motherland and dominion countries?

6. How does music contribute to Britain’s commemoration of the war and those lost and wounded? Do the modes of remembrance used indicate a break with the past, or do they carry on traditional mourning practices?

Abstract Submission Information

Abstracts are invited from academic staff, postgraduates, and other researchers for 20-minute individual papers and panels of three (90 minutes) or four papers (120 minutes).

All abstracts should be no longer than 300 words. Please also include your name, institutional affiliation or city, and a bio of up to 100 words.

Papers accepted will be considered for inclusion in a future edited collection.

Please send abstracts by 5pm (GMT) on 1 September 2016 to Michelle Meinhart at Acceptance decisions will be made by 1 October 2016.

This conference is supported by the Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies and the US-UK Fulbright Commission.

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