Continuities and Ruptures: Artistic Responses to Jewish Migration, Internment and Exile in the Long Twentieth Century

Continuities and Ruptures: Artistic Responses to Jewish Migration, Internment and Exile in the Long Twentieth Century

International Conference, 6–8 July 2014, School of Music, University of Leeds

Sponsored by the Worldwide Universities Network Fund for International Research

Project and conference website: Music, Memory and Migration in the Post-Holocaust Jewish Experience: Renewal and Transformation

Call for Papers (deadline Monday 4 November 2013)


Displacement has been an integral part of the twentieth-century Jewish experience.  Whether forced due to Nazi persecution, compelled by other oppressive factors, or entered into voluntarily in the hope of a new start, migration, internment and exile have affected musical, theatrical and literary output by Jewish artists in myriad ways. For example, members of the conference committee are currently researching topics including the music of Jewish immigrants to South Africa; the works of composers, playwrights and authors before, during and after incarceration in the Terezin/Theresienstadt ghetto; Holocaust songbooks; and Jewish artistic expression in the Soviet Union. They are also investigating the question: what does it mean to perform these works today, or even create new artistic works stimulated by them?

Conference themes

We invite proposals for papers, panels, workshops and performances that address the following questions and related topics:

  • How do artists represent, or resist representing, displacement in their works?
  • What other types of traces does displacement leave upon the artists’ works (e.g. hybrid styles, transitions into different languages or musical and theatrical idioms, etc)?
  • How do artists represent the ‘before’ and ‘after’ — the old home and the new?
  • How has displacement affected the archives in which these works have been found — what was brought from home, what was recreated in a new land, what has been irretrievably lost?
  • How does cultural production function as an archive, and what does it preserve?
  • How do artistic works represent rupture or continuity — or even effect rupture or continuity — from a time before exile, through the period of transition, into a new milieu?  How do the works represent continuity of or rupture with particular styles (e.g. cultural modernism) and social/political movements (e.g. socialism, Zionism)?
  • Why and how are such works performed and published today?  Why are present-day audiences drawn to these works, and what do they take away from them?
  • How do performers, producers and publishers frame such works for the audience, and to what ends (e.g. memorialisation, commemoration, education, indoctrination)? What are the aesthetic, political and ethical issues surrounding such performances and publications?
  • Can artistic works created in environments such as concentration camps, or in culturally repressive/religiously hostile societies, ever ‘stand on their own’ as aesthetic works, without reference to their context? Should they?
  • What are the aesthetic, political and ethical issues surrounding the creation of new works inspired by the cultural output of sites such as concentration camps?

Student and early career researcher bursaries

A number of student and early career researcher bursaries of c.£300-£500 will be available to assist with attendance to present at the conference. The AHRC’s definition of early career researchers is adopted here: at the point of application you are either within eight years of receiving your PhD or within six years of starting your first academic appointment (career breaks, e.g. for family care or health reasons, should be excluded).

If you wish to be considered for a conference bursary, please include a letter of application with your proposal, providing the following information:

  • evidence of your student or early career researcher status;
  • explanation of why you require financial support;
  • an estimate of your costs for attending the conference;
  • an outline of the other funds you will apply for;
  • an explanation of how the conference will advance your career and scholarship.

Your bursary application will be considered by the conference committee, and the outcome will be sent along with notification of acceptance (or otherwise) of your conference proposal.

Submitting a proposal

The official language of the conference is English. Proposals are sought for the following types of presentation (see detailed submission instructions for each presentation type below):

  • 20-minute individual papers
  • roundtable panels
  • performances
  • workshops/demonstrations with potential for audience participation

Individuals or groups may submit proposals for different types of presentation if they wish to.

All materials (detailed below) should be sent to in a single attachment to an email (not in the email body), in PDF format.

Deadline for proposals: Monday 4 November 2013

Individual papers
Individual papers should be maximum 20 minutes in length, and will be followed by questions (c. 10 minutes). Please submit the following:

  • abstract (300 words max.)
  • short biography (150 words max.)
  • name, institutional affiliation (if appropriate), email address,  and other contact details

Roundtable panels
Panels should be maximum 90 minutes in length, and will typically feature “position statements” from individual panelists, followed by roundtable discussion and audience questions/comments. However, formats deviating from this plan may also be suggested.

Please submit the following:

  • overall panel abstract (300 words max.)
  • an abstract of each panelist’s contribution (150 words max.)
  • a biography of each panelist (150 words max.), clearly identifying the panel chair/convenor
  • name, email address, and other contact details for the panel chair/convenor

There may be opportunities for performances of c.1 hour’s length. Musical, theatrical, literary or other performances will be considered, in keeping with the overall theme of the conference.

Please submit the following:

  • overall concept of the performance (300 words max.)
  • draft programme, if appropriate
  • a biography of each contributor (150 words max.)
  • name, email address, and other contact details for the performance organiser

Workshops/demonstrations with potential for audience participation
Proposals for workshops/demonstrations with the potential for audience participation are invited.

Please submit the following:

  • an outline of the workshop, including information on how audience participation will be sought (300 words max.)
  • a biography of each contributor (150 words max.)
  • name, email address, and other contact details for the workshop/demonstration organiser

Notification of successful proposals

Notifications of acceptance or otherwise will be sent at the beginning of December 2013. The full provisional conference programme will be announced early in 2014.

Conference committee

  • Michael Beckerman (New York University)
  • David Fligg (Leeds College of Music)
  • Helen Finch (University of Leeds)
  • Stephen Muir (University of Leeds)
  • Lisa Peschel (University of York)
  • Joseph Toltz (Sydney Conservatorium, University of Sydney)
  • Bret Werb (Music Curator, US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington DC)

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