Call for Papers: Song Studies

The Amsterdam Centre for Cross-Disciplinary Emotion and Sensory Studies and THALIA, research group on the Interplay of Theatre, Literature & Media in Performance, present:



Ghent University, 1-3 July 2020

Keynote speaker: Monique Scheer (Tübingen University)

Call for papers

The singing voice is a medium of expression that is found in all times and cultures. People have always been singing, not only to perform entertainingly, but also to express emotions or to embody identities. This has for example made collective singing (and listening) practices a primary way for people to articulate and embody the identities that are fundamental to the existence of social groups. The bodily and sensory experience of moving and sounding together in synchrony, enables individuals to experience feelings of togetherness with others.

Song is the versatile medium facilitating such processes. Songs can evoke and channel emotions, employing them for specific (or less specific) means. As a multimodal genre, song enables not only the articulation and embodiment of ideas; as an inherently oral and intangible medium, songs can move through space and time, transgressing any material form. Therefore, songs have proven an ideal tool for the distribution of news, contentious ideas, or mobilising messages.

This conference aims to bring together researchers from various disciplines investigating song (for example musicology, literary studies, history, sociology, performance studies, cognition studies, anthropology, etc.). The focus will be on the definition of possible approaches to the study of this medium (both in its material and performed existence), its performances (in any form) and reception (in any context). Research examples may cover songs written and sung in any culture and language, and any (historical) period. Common ground will be found through concepts, approaches and methodologies, encouraging an interdisciplinary and transhistorical dialogue, breaking ground for a new research field: song studies.

Possible research areas and questions to be explored are:
– how to study the multimodality of the genre, acknowledging both textual and musical characteristics, and its performative nature;
– the sensory/bodily and emotional/affective experience of listening and singing;
– cognitive and/or affective processes of singing (and collective singing practices);
– how to study the performative aspects of songs in historical contexts;
– the ‘power’/agency of song;
– the role of song and singing in social processes and historical developments; etc.

We invite proposals for 20-minute individual papers (max. 300 words) or alternative formats (pre-submission inquiry is encouraged). As the aim of this conference is to facilitate dialogue, there will be ample time for discussion and exchange. Please send your proposal, including your name, academic affiliation and a short biographical note, no later than 20 December 2019 to

For more information, visit:


Lecture Monique Scheer

15 September 2011, 16h

VU Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1105, room 1G10

Lecture Monique Scheer

The Sacralization of Feeling

Religious Emotion as a Cultural Practice among German Methodists in the 19th Century


Monique Scheer is Research Scholar at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, and the Center for the History of Emotions, Berlin.


In her lecture, Monique Scheer will explore an understanding of emotions as cultural practices using the example of Methodist worship among Germans in Württemberg (Germany) and the Ohio River valley (USA), for whom emotions were integral to their religious practice. An understanding of emotions as cultural practices is slowly evolving: If we conceive of feelings as learned and cultivated, then it becomes clear that they are to be viewed as a form of bodily as well as conceptual knowledge transmitted in specific cultural contexts. For the role of emotions in religion, this perspective means that we can take them seriously as an integral part of practice, not simply as its effect. Sources for this kind of analysis can and should be not only what people say they feel, but also what they do in order to feel a certain way.

The lecture starts at 16.00h. Lecture and discussion are followed by a reception around 17.15h.

Methodist camp meeting. Alexander Rider/Hugh Bridport, Kennedy & Lucas lithograph, ca. 1829 (Library of Congress Digital Collections)