Marginalised Voices and Figures in French Festival Culture, 1500–1800

Music Department, King’s College London

2425 April 2021

Please note: due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation, this conference has now been postponed until 24-25 April 2021 (n.b. the original dates were 24-25 October 2020). Delegates wishing to participate or attend online will still be able to do so.

Keynote speakers:

Prof. Kate van Orden (Harvard University) Prof. Julia Prest (University of St Andrews)

The ‘France Antarctique’ or ‘Brazilian’ ball given for Henri II’s ceremonial entry into Rouen, 1 October 1550 (Relation de l’entrée de Henri II, roi de France, à Rouen, le 1er October 1550, Bibliothèque municipale de Rouen, MS Y 28, CGM 1268);

The last few decades have seen a marked increase in early modern festival research. From royal coronations and ceremonial entries to court ballets and investitures of popes and cardinals, such events were important expressions of courtly, civic, and ecclesiastical hierarchy, community, and tradition. Between 1500 and 1800, France was one of the most prolific and influential centers of festival art in Europe. Indeed, French ‘inventions’ such as the court ballet (ballet de cour), the equestrian carrousel, and the comédie-ballet were imitated and emulated across the continent.

However, research on French festival culture has typically focused on traditional centers of power like the royal court, and has either highlighted the contributions of well-known poets, painters, and dance masters or concentrated on the responses of elite spectators like foreign diplomats, princes, and nobles. Our conference instead seeks to shift the focus towards marginalised voices and figures, among them:

  • Lesser-known musicians, choreographers, poets, and artists who have been overlooked in conventional histories of music, literature, and the arts, namely because they do not conform to narratives of great composers/musicians, poets, and artists, despite being critical to the production and performance of French festivals.
  • Non-elite people, such as artisans and merchants, who were crucial to the production of festivals, or members from the urban population, who were regularly part of audiences for civic festivities in France, such as ceremonial entries and equestrian carrousels.
  • ‘Subaltern’ people, among them women, ethnic and confessional minorities, queer audiences, and colonial populations, who were often involved in the production and performance of French festivals or attended them in person. 

Our conference is interested in both what French festival culture during the period 1500–1800 reveals about these figures, and what this investigation tells us about early modern society on a more global level. What insights does the non-elite or subaltern status of festival contributors offer into early modern perceptions of the arts? What do French festivals tell us about other groups who were generally excluded or oppressed in society? How should we understand the frequent tension between emphasising and erasing the foreign ‘other’ (like the participation of colonial subjects, the use of blackface for racial stereotyping, or the cultural appropriation of valuable colonial objects, etc.)?

Paper proposals

The organisers are keen to encourage an interdisciplinary approach to this subject matter, assembling a balance of musicologists, historians, and scholars in other fields to create a forum for productive exchange. We particularly welcome applications from under-represented groups in academia, such as women, BAME, and LGBTQ+ communities.

We would be interested in any papers that address the following topics:

  • Investigations of musicians, artists, choreographers, poets, and other festival contributors who have been marginalised in conventional histories of early modern arts.
  • Analysis of individual festivals, theatrical performances, or ceremonies that involved and/or represented marginalised voices and figures.
  • Diachronic studies on the involvement and/or representation of marginalised voices and figures.
  • Research on cultural and diplomatic exchanges between traditional centres of power and commonly marginalised communities, such as colonial populations and confessional minorities. This may include transnational and global approaches to French festival culture.

If you would like to propose a 20-minute paper, please send a brief abstract of about 250 words to When sending your abstract, please also provide a one-page CV with details of your academic experience, affiliation, and publications. The new extended deadline for submitting proposals is Sunday 28 February 2021. The committee will make their final decision on submitted abstracts by early March 2021. Further information about the programme, registration, travel and accommodation will be announced after that date. The organisers are thinking of inviting conference delegates to prepare a chapter for an edited volume of papers presented at this event.

Our twitter handle is @marginalisedvo1.


Marc W. S. Jaffré (University of Oxford), Bram van Leuveren (University of Groningen), and Alexander Robinson (King’s College London).

This event is generously supported by the Royal Musical Association, Music & Letters, The Society for the Study of French History, the Royal Historical Society, and The Society for Renaissance Studies.

Memory, Identity and the Remediation of Musical Lives – LAHP Student-led Interdisciplinary Conference 2020

Call for Papers

Memory, Identity and the Remediation of Musical Lives

LAHP Student-led Interdisciplinary Conference 2020

Keynote speaker: Dr Nicolas Pillai (Birmingham City University)

The London Arts and Humanities Partnership is pleased to announce the interdisciplinary student-led conference Memory, Identity and the Remediation of Musical Lives, which will be hosted by King’s College London, Music Department (29-30 May 2020).

Since the early examples of music biographies in the eighteenth century, the practice of narrating the lives of musicians has steadily developed and flourished across different media. Music biopics and TV documentaries on pop stars or composers are among the most successful genres in the contemporary audiovisual panorama. Where does such a long-standing fascination for the life of musicians stem from?

Music pervades people’s lives and is one of their favourite ways to forge their identities. However, it is not only through the act of listening and making music that identities are shaped. Discourses about music are of no less importance, and these often focus on the protagonists (both living and dead, real and imagined) of the musical scene, whose histories are relentlessly retold, monumentalised, turned into powerful lieux de mémoire (P. Nora, 1984-92). The practice of music-life writing, of remembering or witnessing the lives of musicians, is indeed one of the most effective means of negotiating individual and group identities.

In Mediation, Remediation and the Dynamics of Cultural Memory (2009), A. Erll and A. Rigney suggest that memory should be interpreted in dynamic terms, ʻas an ongoing process of remembrance and forgetting in which individuals and groups continue to reconfigure their relationship to the past and hence reposition themselves in relation to established and emergent memory sitesʼ. Such a continuous process of reconfiguration happens through different media, which constantly refashion prior media forms and the contents mediated (this process has famously been called “remediation”by J.D. Bolter and R. Grusin, 1999). If we accept the idea that musicians’ lives are identitarian sites of memory, and that such sites are made up of ʻdifferent [and competing] media versions of the pastʼ, it becomes necessary to interpret musical-life writing by considering the triangular relationship between memory, identity and remediation. Hence the themeof the proposed conference.

Memory, Identity and the Remediation of Musical Lives seeks to curate an interdisciplinary forum for PhD students and early researchers in the Arts and Humanities and Social Sciences interested in the diachronic and synchronic dynamics of musical-life writing in different media.We encourage the submission of proposals for20-minute papers that address, but are not necessarily limited to, the following issues:

  • genre conventions, distinctive and shared strategies of musical-life writing across different media and times
  • premediation / remediation of musical lives and gradual formation of the audience’s identity
  • music historiography vs musical-life writing; high-brow vs low-brow practices of remembering
  • musical-life writing, authenticity and historical accuracy
  • attractions and pitfalls involved in the writing of musical lives
  • intersection between specific musical genres, identity and strategies of memory

To submit a paper, please send a presentation title and an abstract of approximately 300 words, along with a short bio and contact details, to by 15 December 2019. Applicants will be notified of the outcome by the mid of January 2020. Abstracts from PhD and early career researchers are particularly encouraged.

Some small bursaries are available for presenting attendees travelling from outside of London. Enquiries should be directed to

Music and Disruptive Pasts: Between the Popular and the Arcane

Music and Disruptive Pasts: Between the Popular and the Arcane

The Open University, Milton Keynes

21/22 August 2019

The past is not mere history. In the creative imagination it is, indeed, a fractious and disruptive place where the atemporal logics of anachronism govern, and strict chronological narratives peculiar to the modern period become suspended. More than a bygone space there simply to learn from, the past has a life of its own, in turn refracting and transforming our present and colouring and informing (perhaps, even, delaying) the future.

There is a growing recognition of this fact: diverse fields operating under such rubrics as ‘medievalism’ or ‘hauntology’ are providing tools to better express and understand the ways in which past(s) and present(s) interact. Particularly striking is the contemporaneity of such endeavours: the radical elision of a then and a now is so often a characteristic of media, theory, and artwork (and more) that is New—technologically, socially, and otherwise. The role of music here is particularly elusive, and it is at the limits of authenticity, of notions of past and of present, and of the arcane and the popular (high and low)—centre and periphery—that it is most enigmatic.

The REMOSS (Representations of Early Music on Stage and Screen) study group, whose previous work has examined the popular (re-)representations of early music in the present seeks to expand its purview to broach broader questions of how music operates in a (new) media landscape where the past figures prominently and in a transformational way. We are interested in how music works ambiguously with (and against) history in film, television, and videogame, in the concert hall, stage, and museum space, and in domains ‘highbrow’ and ‘lowbrow (and neither), be that to reinforce or subvert artistic practice, historiography, and creative imagination—new and old. In addition to our on-going interest in representations of early music and historically informed performance we are particularly interested in the role of music, the past, and

  • Medievalism
  • Hauntology
  • Historic soundscapes
  • Sound and immersion
  • Period settings outside of the Middle Ages (antiquity, nineteenth century, etc.)
  • Steampunk
  • Politics and national identities
  • Popular music, art music, and the spaces between
  • Gothic and other subcultures
  • Gender, sexuality, and the body
  • Whiteness and extremist ideologies
  • Representations of race

In addition to papers in the traditional format (20 minutes, plus 10 minutes questions) we welcome proposals for alternative formats, including but not limited to: pre-circulated papers, workshop and discussion seminars, practice-orientated research, lightning talks, and poster presentations.

Please send proposals (of around 250 words) to, and include details like affiliation and proposed paper/session format. The deadline for proposals is Friday 17 May 2019. For updates about the conference (including details for registration, as well as other invited speakers) please visit, and also follow us on twitter at @REMOSSBrum.

Digital presentations and remote attendance will be available for those unable to attend in person. The conference will also be live streamed, and details of how to access this will be released in due course.

Dr James Cook, University of Edinburgh (

Dr Alexander Kolassa, The Open University (

Dr Alex Robinson, Paris-Sorbonne University (

Dr Adam Whittaker, Birmingham City University (

See also (

The Fourth Annual Representations of Early Music on Stage and Screen (REMOSS) Conference: Music and Medievalism

The REMOSS study group will hold its fourth annual conference at the University of Edinburgh on 15-16 June 2018.

REMOSS’s previous activities have been largely focussed on the use of early music in stage and screen contexts; this conference hopes to widen that perspective turning its focus towards ‘medievalism’ as a methodological and aesthetic lens through which to further interrogate those themes.

The conference committee would particularly welcome proposals on themes of ‘Global Medievalisms’ and Cross-media/intermedia Medievalism’; however, all proposals and contributions will be considered. As ever, our conception of ‘early music’ is a broad one, including the use, or re-use, of ‘real’ early music in contexts new and old, historically informed performance, and modern music drawing on medieval themes and structures. We are also interested in alternative and global traditions of ‘early’ music, as well as imagined or invented ones.

Proposal for papers, workshops, demonstrations, lecture-recitals, and panels are solicited by February 16 2018. Please send a proposal of c.200 words including the session/paper format, the names and affiliations of any speakers, and contact details for the proposer, to If you have any questions about the conference, feel free to contact any of the organisers. To register as an attendee, follow this link:  Sign-up for our jiscmail newsletter at: REMOSS@JISCMAIL.AC.UK

Conference attendance will be free. Digital presentations will be available for speakers who cannot attend in person and, as always, the event will be live-streamed for those who wish to attend digitally.

Dr James Cook, University of Edinburgh (

Dr Alex Kolassa, Royal Holloway, University of London (

Dr Alex Robinson, Paris-Sorbonne University (

Dr Adam Whittaker, Birmingham City University (

Musical Culture in the Wars of Religion, 1550-1650


Conference Dates:

17-18 March 2018



St Catharine’s College, University of Cambridge

Trumpington Street





Edward Wickham, Tom Hamilton, Alex Robinson

Conference Description

Talks by:

Peter Bennett (Case Western Reserve), Marie-Alexis Colin (Brussels), Tom Hamilton (Cambridge), Kat Hill (Birkbeck), Melinda Latour (Tufts), David van der Linden (Groningen), Margaret McGowan (Sussex), Emilie Murphy (York), David Potter (Kent), Alex Robinson (Cambridge), John Romey (Case Western Reserve), Daniel Trocmé Latter (Cambridge),

and featuring a lecture-recital by Edward Wickham (Cambridge) and the Choir of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge on Claude Le Jeune’s Dodecacorde (1598).


Conference Outline:


Music was a crucial battleground during the age of the Wars of Religion. In spite of this, historians and musicologists have rarely combined their approaches to try and understand the full significance that music had in the civil wars. Historians, for example, have primarily studied how music shaped confessional identities, such as when Protestants sang the Psalms together in worship or on the battlefield to express their solidarity and take comfort in their faith (despite the threat of persecution). Musicologists, on the other hand, have tended to concentrate on the most important composers from this time (such as Eustache Du Caurroy or Pierre Guédron), the genres in which they wrote (like ballets or airs de cour), or certain issues arising from the performance of this repertoire.

This conference brings together historians and musicologists with the aim of overcoming the boundaries that still remain between these scholarly disciplines. It focuses on the various contexts within which music was used and considers its impact in the Wars of Religion. Who sang music and for what aims? What was the relationship (if any) between the performance of music in elite circles versus the use of this art form among the wider public? Did music solidify or traverse confessional divisions? Lastly, how far can modern performers recreate the soundscapes of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries?

Treating the age of the Wars of Religion across a whole century (1550-1650) and using France as a focal point for making wider comparisons, this conference will comprise twelve papers given by speakers from the UK, continental Europe and the USA. These papers will explore the role of music across all sectors of society, from the royal courts to the city streets, as well as from both Protestant and Catholic perspectives; in addition, they will demonstrate how people from both sides of the confessional divide engaged with a common musical tradition. The Psalms, in particular, could be sung to express a desire for peace as well as continued religious war.

Alongside the twelve papers, the conference will include a public lecture-recital of Claude Le Jeune’s Dodecacorde (1598) given by Edward Wickham and the choir of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge. Le Jeune’s career and compositions perfectly encapsulate the themes of this conference. As a protestant sympathiser during the early phase of the civil wars, he was also associated with the Catholic Académie de musique et de poésie at the royal court in the 1570s, and he later served as a musician in the household of Henri IV (1589-1610). Le Jeune moved between Protestant and Catholic circles, travelled across France, and mixed with the highest levels of courtly society; in addition, he composed major (and still oft-neglected) pieces that combine confessional solidarity with a desire for peace after decades of bloody civil war.

For more information on this event, and to book tickets, see