Music and the Arts in England, c. 1670–1750

International and interdisciplinary conference, 27th−29th June 2019

Universität Hamburg, Institut für Historische Musikwissenschaft


Call for papers (deadline: 15th September 2018)


There were various discussions on, and re-evaluations of, the interrelations of the arts in the 17th and 18th centuries. The origins of these disputes were multi-layered and deeply rooted in fundamental social changes which led to new conditions for the creation and reception of art, permitting new configurations for the professionalization of artists and the legitimation of the arts. England and especially its metropolis London was one of the centres for strengthening professionalism in the artsranting stages for all kinds of novelties as well as providing for a print media with unparalleled dissemination to influence the reception and perception of art. The international and interdisciplinary conference aims to define, on the one hand, unique features of the reception and perception of the arts in England. On the other hand, it strives to evaluate English influences on, and exchange processes with, the European continent. Its specific focus lies on the re-evaluation of the arts’ significance and meaning in interrelation with music.

Music was often part of mixed media venture. Opera is the most obvious example, but there are numerous other instances: theatre was unthinkable without symphonies, interludes and songs; printed music often had title pages depicting music making; music was a theme in painting; musical instruments were designed in significant artful ways etc. While the interrelations between text and music have gained scholarly attention within the field of vocal music, their foundation within a broader hierarchy of the arts within English culture in the second half of the 17th and first half of the 18th centuries is still little researched. Indeed many music histories ignore the discipline’s relations to painting altogether.

One of the reasons why there is little scholarly work on art interrelations within this time span might be the fact that the rise of print media as a main protagonist of public opinion offered divergent possibilities of expression to the different arts. At the same time, print was the main medium in which new ideas about sensual perception relevant to art perception were disseminated. National and international reception of ‘enlightened’ bodies of thought, from John Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding (London 1690) to Joseph Addison’s and Richard Steele’s moral weeklies, seems to be well known. However, their influence (along with that of other media) on art reception is worth a closer look: even more so, as their effect might be crucial to uncover unique English features in the discussion of the hierarchy of the arts.

Our conference aims to fill some of the gaps by focussing on the interrelations between music and the arts within the social and cultural context of England, c. 1670–1750. The goal is to define unique features as well as international exchange processes. Accordingly, we welcome papers on such topics as:


  • Supporters and media of public art display
  • Hierarchies of the arts
  • (changes in) the meanings of sensual perception with respect to the arts
  • Boundaries between amateurs, virtuosos and professionals
  • Rhetorical strategies of professional competition
  • Consequences of social mobility and gender differences on art representation


The conference will be held in both English and German. We strive to reimburse travelling and accommodation costs but cannot guarantee this at this point. Selected conference proceeding will be published (peer-reviewed).


We encourage scholars from musicology, English studies, art history, history, cultural history, theatre history, social history and philosophy to send paper proposals (30 minutes; abstract max. 300 words) and short vitas (max. 100 words) to ina.knoth@uni-hamburg by 15th September 2018.


For any questions please contact Dr. Ina Knoth: