Music Festival Studies: Current Perspectives, Future Directions
MIT, Cambridge MA
March 13-15, 2020

Festivals have emerged as important sites of inquiry in research on music
making. This conference will harness the energy of current scholarship on
music festivals and contribute to the formation of new knowledge in a
wide-ranging, interdisciplinary, and collaborative series of formal paper
sessions, workshops, and a panel discussion with festival practitioners.

We invite proposals for twenty-minute papers from scholars at any stage in
their careers, working in any discipline, who engage with musics of any
genre in festival environments. Conference themes will include (but not be
limited to): community and identity formation; economics
(branding/marketing, funding, labor dynamics, etc.); the experiences
(aesthetic, cultural, embodied, and social) that festival participation
facilitates; institutional mechanisms; media and spectacle; politics; the
production of culture; social mediation; and the relationship of festivals
to the spaces and places in which they occur (including online and other
“virtual” locations). We welcome research that draws on historical,
ethnographic, and/or sociological methods to illuminate the significance
and particularity of music festivals in history, in culture, throughout the
world, and as part of the contemporary moment.

In addition to traditional papers on individual research topics, the
conference will feature two workshops on theories and methodologies
relevant to music festival research. Small group work and facilitated
discussion will draw on participants’ diverse research agendas, personal
experiences, and scholarly approaches. Each participant will therefore be
asked in advance to suggest readings to guide our work during this integral
part of the conference. Our goal is to create and share an innovative
“festival syllabus” and digital coursepack that will sharpen our current
thinking and spur future research.

The Saturday afternoon plenary session will explore the institutional
practices and values that are shaping music festival culture on a local
scale through a panel discussion with artists and administrators connected
with music festivals in Massachusetts.

Please send 350-word abstracts to: musicfestivalstudies -at-
Deadline: October 15, 2019

Lisa Jakelski, Eastman School of Music
Emily Richmond Pollock, MIT
Caitlin Schmid, MIT


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