RIFL special issue on Music and Language, edited by Stefano Oliva and Chris Stover

Submission deadline March 15, 2020

The relationship between music and language has been complicated since the advent of post-Enlightenment musical aesthetics. On one hand, as Eduard Hanslick insists, music’s content consists solely of sound forms in motion; on the other hand, music does seem to have some sort of para-discursive semantic quality: “it is a language we speak and understand, but which we are unable to translate.”

Suspended between the project of a musical semantics and the myth of music’s ineffability, the philosophy of music has never broken its problematic link with the philosophy of language. The current ebb in theoretical orientations connected to the ‘linguistic turn’, and in particular the abandonment of the projects of musical semiology, has somewhat elided the question of the relationship between music and language. However, interest in music is having a recurrence in philosophy: as Giorgio Agamben has recently noted, “philosophy is today possible only as a reformation of music,” by music meaning “the experience of the Muse, that is, of the origin and the taking place of the word.” Agamben’s provocation places music back in the center of a wide range of inquiry practices.

This issue of RIFL intends to re-engage questions of the relationship between linguistic meaning and musical expression, in conjunction with recent developments in cross-disciplinary research from cognition and neuroscience, linguistics, philosophy and beyond. We welcome contributions that develop at least the following themes:

- Linguistic meaning and musical expressiveness
- Musical semiotics, syntax and pragmatics
- Rhetoric and affections in music
- Music and metaphor
- Analysis of the emotional content of music
- Embodied cognition and musical experience
- Music and the limits of language

Submissions can be sent in Italian, English or French (maximum 40000 characters, including bibliography and endnotes). Please include a 250-word abstract and five keywords in English. Manuscripts must be prepared using this template: All submissions must be prepared for anonymous evaluation. The author’s name, affiliation if applicable and title of the contribution should be indicated in a separate file from that which contains the main text.

Please send submissions in .doc format to segreteria.rifl -at-

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