Harvard’s Graduate Music Forum is seeking abstracts for its annual conference to be held on February 8-9, 2019 at the Department of Music at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts with a keynote address by Dr. Brigid Cohen. 


Call for Papers 

We invite proposals on music, sound, and censorship, broadly conceived, from current graduate students and postdocs on all repertoires, musical practices, and historical periods from a broad array of disciplinary and methodological perspectives.

Musical censorship appears in a variety of contexts, from democracies to dictatorships, among and between public and private spheres, by force and by choice. Censorship has meant both “concrete mechanisms of silencing” (Robert C. Post, 1998), and, following Foucault, censorship is paradoxical in that it is at once a power of constraint, and a constitutive/productive force that circulates in a society. Considering censorship, music, and sound together affords discussions of the politics of silence and silencing, hidden inscriptions, and the roles of sound-makers and listeners in silencing. Mechanisms and technologies of sonic censorship may also be interrogated under this rubric. How is censorship of music and sound enacted? What role does sound play in censoring other sound? We also invite presentations that consider the effect of musical censorship on the academic study of music. How has musical censorship affected the sonic materials we study, the people who are welcomed into our field, and the research that we publish? 

We hope that this conference will contribute to our understanding of the effect that censorship has on the sounds and music we hear across historical periods, cultures, and geographies. We are looking forward to submissions from all music-related disciplines, including ethnomusicology, music theory, historical musicology, composition, music cognition, music therapy, music/sound technology, as well as from scholars working on sound or music from fields outside of music studies.

Possible subtopics include but are not limited to: 

  • ontologies of musical censorship
  • technologies of censorship
  • censorship in music institutions, historiography, and archives
  • inscription and hidden messages
  • geographies and architectures of censorship
  • politics of silence
  • copyright and legal implications of censorship
  • claims of utility (e.g. decency, protecting children, political threat, etc.)
  • self-censorship
  • textual vs. musical censorship
  • “explicit” labels, trigger warnings, and other ratings systems
  • censorship and voice(s)
  • health, the body and music censorship
  • fetishizations of censorship (e.g., objects imbued with greater value due to censorship)
  • networks of censorship 

Submission Guidelines

Please submit abstracts of no more than 300 words to HarvardGMF2019@gmail.com by Friday, November 30, 2018. In the body of the email, please include your name, institutional affiliation, and list any A/V requirements. 

Formats for presentation include:

  • 20-minute papers or audiovisual presentations with 10 minutes for discussion
    Please submit abstracts of a maximum of 300 words and, where appropriate, up to 4 additional pages for figures. 
  • 30-minute composers’ colloquia, performances, or lecture-recitals, with 15 minutes for discussion
    Please submit details of the work to be presented in a maximum of 300 words and, where appropriate, links to downloads (via Dropbox, Google Drive etc.) of relevant sound recordings, scores, and/or supplementary documentation. Please add a short statement regarding A/V requirements.