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CFP: Mysticism

The AMS Music and Philosophy Study Group will convene a panel at the 2019 AMS Annual Meeting on the subject of Mysticism. In a multitude of global cultures, across vast spans of historical time, music has often been central to philosophically and spiritually transformative forms of mysticism. Among philosophers, some have affectively and politically feared or critiqued music’s associations with mysticism (for example among positivists or structuralists), whereas others (particularly in continental and non-Western philosophy) have highly valued such associations. Mystical experiences range widely: from communing with an underlying reality or divinity, to achieving an ecstatic or altered state, overcoming the boundaries of the self, to losing one’s reliable circuits of self-consciousness. Mysticism can involve privileged individuals (priests, sages, mediums), communities of initiates (believers, cults, secret societies, subcultures), and complex reasons for seeking such an experience (escaping worldly attachments, grasping life’s meanings, predicting the future, or eluding the coordinates of science and reason).


How might music scholars today consider the relationship between music and mysticism from a philosophical perspective? How might historical philosophies of musical and mystical experiences speak to the present moment? How might music’s intellectual and spiritual capacities operate beyond the spheres of representation? And how might such experiences relate to social justice projects?

We welcome papers from any branch of music studies as well as other related fields. Possible topics include:

• the occult, the esoteric, and the divine

• historical philosophies that broach mystic experience

• music and sound in religious experience

• philosophical, historical, and ethnographic approaches to music and mysticism

• global perspectives on music and mysticism

• the role of mysticism in social justice activism

• the historical exclusion of mystical experience from music studies

Please submit abstracts of 250 words (max) to mystic.mpsg -at- gmail.com.


Deadline: May 8th, midnight, EST


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