Music, italianità and the nineteenth-century global imagination

CFP: Music, italianità and the nineteenth-century global imagination

University of Cambridge, CRASSH, 16-17 September 2016

Music has long been a signifier of Italian identity, and its bearing on both popular and scholarly views of Italian nation-building during the long nineteenth century has only recently been seriously contested. At the same time, a growing body of scholarship has emerged that approaches musical italianità in this period as a set of shifting cultural constructs shaped by acts of (real or imaginary) border-crossing. This in turn invites critical attention on the nineteenth-century musical construction of Italian-ness from novel viewpoints, including the global and transnational.

Funded by a three-year grant from the Leverhulme Trust (IN-2015-045), a new research network will seek to address these issues from a variety of perspectives ( Under the general title ‘Re-imagining italianità: opera and musical culture in transnational perspective’, the network—based at UCL and with collaborators at Cambridge, Brown University (US) and Campinas (Brazil)—is intended as a platform for cross-disciplinary debate, aiming to challenge and nuance existing scholarly paradigms and inherited conceptions of music and national belonging. A series of conferences and workshops to take place in 2016-18 will each address specific research objectives within this broader theme.

The first conference of the network will be held at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), at the University of Cambridge, on 16-17 September 2016. The conference proposes to explore different facets—geographical, historical, artistic and theoretical—of the relationship between music and italianità in an explicitly global context during the ‘long’ nineteenth century. We invite submissions for 20-minute papers on relevant topics.

Approaches that papers might take towards an exploration of different facets of a global musical italianità include:

– pace and temporality

– space and place

– visual representations of performers or operas

– sound of/and war

– colonial encounters

– touring opera

– the experience of exile

– newspaper reception of Italian music outside Italy

– opera outside opera houses

– theatre architecture

– voice and vocality

– translations

Papers must be in English. Due to the limited number of paper slots available, preference will be given to proposals that engage most closely with the network themes and that reflect ‘work in progress’ (that is, not yet presented in similar forms elsewhere). We particularly encourage submissions from doctoral students and early career researchers from any discipline.

Abstracts of 300 words may be sent to Alexander Kolassa ( until 17 April. The outcome will be announced by 9 May. A limited number of bursaries covering part of the travelling and accommodation costs will be made available to students presenting a paper at the conference. Applications for these will open in June. For any queries, please contact either Francesca Vella ( or Benjamin Walton (

Conveners: Francesca Vella and Benjamin Walton

Conference committee: Axel Körner, Paulo Kühl, Suzanne Stewart-Steinberg, Francesca Vella, Benjamin Walton