Constructing Historiography of Music: The Formation of musicological Knowledge

CfP: Constructing Historiography of Music: The Formation of musicological Knowledge


Date: November 3-5, 2011

Conference Venue: Georg-August-University Göttingen, Germany

Organized by: Ph.D. Fellows of “Erinnerung – Wahrnehmung – Bedeutung. Musikwissenschaft als Geisteswissenschaft”, funded by the federal state of Lower Saxony at the Universities in Göttingen, Oldenburg and Osnabrück together with the University of Music, Drama and Media Hannover

Deadline: February 28, 2011


Musicology describes, construes, evaluates and remembers music, thus generating knowledge about music. Through processes of study and specification Musicology forms its own contexts and scientific ideas. At this international conference, organized by a junior research group of Musicology in Lower Saxony/Germany, it is intended to look from different theoretical perspectives at specific moments in which the historiography of music is constructed, thereby analyzing the litigations of its emergence and exploring what constitutes or transforms a music-based knowledge.


The initial starting point of our enquiries is our observation that music history – like history in general – is not self-evident or uniquely defined. Its formation takes place in an interaction between individual, social and communicative perceptions or disparate attributions of meaning, as well as by classifying facts into existing and casually updated categories. Knowledge about music history therefore always occurs as a product of a specific present. It is based on a constructive recollection of the past and on the contingency of its change. However, this process of writing music history is not only influenced and generated by musicologists. A great variety of professions and different media partake in the production, realization and spreading of music-based knowledge.


For a long time, German Musicologist ́s comprehension of historiography was shaped by Hegelian logic, historicism and holistic approaches – perspectives, which were criticized by postmodern, post- structuralist and constructivist theorists in various ways. Epistemological questions regarding the possibility of authoritative or objective knowledge, as well as questions concerning the constructive process of writing history took on a greater significance in science in the past years, but have only been marginally reflected by musicologists. Granted, it has become a standard procedure not only to reflect music itself, but to question its embeddedness into cultural contexts and its use within these contexts. However, in order to position Musicology in the ensemble of the Humanities through interdisciplinary exchange, it seems essential also to reflect on these philosophical theories and the theories of cultural studies with regard to their potential use for Musicology. Bearing all of this in mind, these theories have become imperative in underlining the constructiveness in the production and formation of knowledge and have long been a part of the sometimes controversial discourses in neighboring disciplines.


Accordingly, we welcome papers that evaluate the theoretical and methodological backgrounds from neighboring disciplines in order to analyze their possible benefit for Musicology. At the same time, we would like to challenge potential contributors to enthusiastically address the “making”, the processuality and mechanisms of music historiography, by looking at examples of how music history was written: Its design, fictionalization, the creation of myths, its legitimization and its alleged consistency should be questioned and examined. Connecting these two approaches, it is the conference ́s aim to promote an epistemological debate on the nexus between culture and theknowledge about music, as well as discussing questions regarding the specific epistemological formation of music history.


A list of keynote-speakers will be published on the program’s homepage in January 2011.


The conference will be held in German and English and presentations should take about 30 minutes. Conference presenters will have the opportunity to publish their contributions. Travel- and accommodation expenses will be funded. Please submit a paper containing a max. 300-500-word abstract and a one-page curriculum vitae for each speaker by February 28, 2011 to:


Strukturiertes Promotionsprogramm “Erinnerung – Wahrnehmung – Bedeutung. Musikwissenschaft als Geisteswissenschaft“ Georg-August-Universität Göttingen Musikwissenschaftliches Seminar Kurze-Geismar-Straße 1 37073 Göttingen E-Mail:


All presenters chosen to partake at the conference will be informed in due time until March 31, 2011.


The Ph.D. fellowship “Erinnerung – Wahrnehmung – Bedeutung. Musikwissenschaft als Geisteswissenschaft“, accommodating Musicologists and funded by the federal state of Lower Saxony/Germany, is presently the only one of its kind in Germany. Fellowships currently holding the grant:

• • • •

Sylvia Freydank and Christoph Dennerlein at the Georg-August-University in Göttingen (Prof. Dr. Andreas Waczkat)

Lilli Mittner and Karina Seefeldt at the University of Music, Drama and Arts in Hannover (Prof. Dr. Susanne Rode-Breymann)

Ina Knoth and Lisbeth Suhrcke at the Carl von Ossietzky University in Oldenburg (Prof. Dr. Melanie Unseld)

Sandra Danielczyk and Mathias Maschat at the University of Osnabrück (Prof. Dr. Dietrich Helms)