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Music and Gender

Musique et genre

Current State of Research

État des recherches actuelles

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Published on Friday, July 17, 2015 by Céline Guilleux

Summary

This conference aims to bring together scholars from both the local and international communities to address issues related to music and gender that remain relatively under-researched in France. Although France has been a pionneer in the field of feminist literary studies, including works by author Hélène Cixous, it seems to stay on the sideline in comparison with the developments of these issues in English-speaking countries–including some of the research associated with approaches loosely called “new musicology” (USA) or “critical musicology” (UK). We intend to organize this conference to not only establish a picture of the current state of  research on the subject, but also give an impetus and an increased visibility to this area of research in France and french-speaking countries.

Announcement

Argument

This conference aims to bring together scholars from both the local and international communities to address issues related to music and gender that remain relatively under-researched in France. Although France has been a pionneer in the field of feminist literary studies, including works by author Hélène Cixous[1], it seems to stay on the sideline in comparison with the developments of these issues in English-speaking countries–including some of the research associated with approaches loosely called “new musicology” (USA) or “critical musicology” (UK). And yet, there’s been a growing interest in these issues lately in France with the contributions of a certain number of french-speaking researchers[2]. We also note that Susan McClary's 1991 classic book has recently been translated into french[3]. 

Despite their diversity, the musicological approaches loosely grouped together under appelations such as “feminist musicology” or “musicological gender studies” often analyze the different manners by which social constructions and modes of representations touching on the distribution of gender roles can affect the practice and the musical content as well as music's discourses and modes of perception. They also study the process by which these practices can participate in the construction of sex and gender identities within a social system of androcentric and heteronormative domination. These approaches often question a certain number of epistemological assumptions upon which traditional musicology had relied.

The musicological gender studies related to the above-mentioned movements of musicological approaches appeared in the 1980s/1990s and aimed to shed light on musical content with issues touching on social and political significations. These approaches take issue with traditional discourses that tend to view music as a pure, autonomous object free of any social or political agency, and mainly reserved for analytical and historiographical research. In many respects, these approaches may intersect social analyse like those found in Bourdieu’s studies[4] of the social determinism that penetrates artistic practices and modes of consumption.

We intend to organize this conference to not only establish a picture of the current state of  research on the subject, but also give an impetus and an increased visibility to this area of research in France and french-speaking countries.

Main themes

Among the different paths we propose to explore, the following axes will be considered:

1. Gender and musical content

This first axis will focus on the issues of gendered and sexist representations in music. When this type of issue is addressed, it is frequently to analyze the most salient aspects of it : lyrics, video clips, discourses on music, the style of dress, or the social behaviors noticed in the considered musical scene and/or culture. It is in this sense that many sociological works have addressed the issue. However, these representations can also be encoded in the musical material itself. Indeed, although the issues of gender can be observed in the diverse behaviours surrounding music, they also can penetrate in the musical practice itself and influence it, including its expressive dimension. This section of the conference will consider the diverse ways in which gendered significations can be conveyed in the musical content through diverse compositional parameters such as timbre, rhythm, pitch, chords, etc. or more complex semiotic combinations.

2. Gender and processes of subjectification

Music often generates sensations, emotional responses, images, and so on. It channels forces and streams of intensity and conveys a constellation of significations (expressive, social, political, etc.) , which can participate in the construction of identities, and relationships with the body, with feelings, with desire, etc. In this respect, one cannot neglect the impact that gender constructions in music can have on the manner in which listeners and musicians build their relationships with the world. As a matter of fact, music can influence and even participate in the manner in which the listeners construct and define their most intimate sensations[5]. Understanding how the channeling and the normalization of the process of construction touching gender, sexuality, and desire are instrumental in maintaining the hegemonic structures of social dominations and marginalization, it is necessary to explore the ways in which music can actively participate in the formation of gendered and sexual experiences or identities, whether they conform to or diverge from social expectations. This axis will address the various ways in which music may influence these experiences and participate in the identity construction.

3. The place of women and of sexual and gender diversities in music

In regard to the music of the past, many works of feminist musicology have considered issues of the established historical canons of classical music to determine to what extent women have largely been excluded from musical historiography and from musicological studies in general. Beyond historical considerations, issues touching women's visibility as composers or performers are still topical. Although women's status has obviously evolved since the ninetheenth century, issues concerning visibility and access to positions of power or prestige remain subject to interrogation and concern.

This third axis of reflection will consequently focus on the place and visibility of women in  musical practice, the history of music, musical institutions, and music education. The perspectives of this axis may be extended to issues touching the field of queer studies, concerning the visibility and place of gender and sexual diversities.

4. Gender and epistemology

In a metadiscursive and autoreflexive perspective, this fourth axis proposes to examine the different positionings and discourses regarding musical practices. Indeed, the epistemological reflections introduced by gender studies imply a necessary critical analysis of the tools, concepts, and modes of representations on which the different discourses concerning music and its contextual environment depend. These reflexions imply an awareness of the historically and socially situated positioning of the researcher or theoretician. It cannot be disregarded that constructions of the sexual and gendered identities of the authors can affect their dispositions, their outlooks, their discourses, and even their tools for analysis. For instance, many works, including theoretical works, are known for using gendered images or terminologies (masculine/feminine themes or endings, for example). This axis of study intends to examine, inter alia, the use of gendered terms in the technical, theoretical, and aesthetic descriptions of music found in scholarly or musicographic discourses. It will question how social constructions of masculinity and femininity have pervaded the ways of thinking about or of describing music, as well as the manners by which these constructions can participate more globally in the sustainability of gender representations on the social level.

Notes

[1]   Cixous Hélène, Le Rire de la Méduse (1975), in Le Rire de la méduse et autres ironies, Paris, Galilée, 2010. Hélène Cixous created the Centre d'études féminines (Université Paris 8) in 1974.

[2]   Here are a few references: CESSAC Catherine, Elisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre, une femme compositeur sous le règne de Louis XIV, Arles, Actes Sud, 1995; CLEMENT Catherine, L’Opéra ou la défaite des femmes, Paris, Grasset 1979; Collectif, Pascale Criton, Ensemble 2e2m, 2000; ESCAL Françoise, ROUSSEAU-DUJARDIN Jacqueline, Musique et différence des sexes, Paris, L’Harmattan, 1999; LAUNEY Florence, Les compositrices en France au XIXème siècle, Paris, Fayard, 2006; PREVOST-THOMAS Cécile, RAVET Hyacinthe, RUDENT Catherine (éd.), Le féminin, le masculin et la musique populaire d’aujourd’hui, Paris, Observatoire Musical Français, 2005; LEGRAND Raphaëlle, « Libertines et femmes vertueuses: l'image des chanteuses d'opéra et d'opéra–comique en France au XVIIIe siècle », in MARQUIÉ  Hélène, BURCH Noël (éd.), Émancipation sexuelle ou contrainte des corps ?, Paris, L'Harmattan, 2006, p. 157-175; LYON Marianne, HUOT Guy (éd.), Les Femmes et la création musicale, Paris, Conseil International de la Musique/Centre de Documentation de la Musique Contemporaine, 2002; RAVET Hyacinthe, Musiciennes: Enquête sur les femmes et la musique, Paris, Éditions Autrement, 2011.

[3]   McCLARY Susan, Feminine Endings, Music, Gender and Sexuality, University of Minnesota Press, 1991.

     French translation: Ouverture féministe : musique, genre, sexualité, translated by Catherine Deutsch and Stéphane Roth, Paris, Philharmonie de Paris/La rue musicale, 2015.

[4]  Bourdieu Pierre, La Distinction. Critique sociale du jugement, Paris, Minuit, 1979.

[5]  McCLARY Susan, op.cit., pp.112-113.

Procedures for the paper submissions

Proposals addressing issues related to one or more of the above-mentioned axes should be sent

before October 15, 2015

to the following adress: duhautpas_frederick AT hotmail (dot) com.

Proposals must include:

  • an abstract in French or in English that may not exceed 5000 characters including spaces.
  • a brief biographical sketch that may not exceed 1500 characters including spaces.

Applicants will receive a response to their proposals by October 31. Notices and instructions will be sent to the e-mail address provided at the time of abstract submission.

The conference will take place the 3rd and 4th december at the Paris 8 University. It will receive communications from keynote speakers as well as selected proposals based for this call to papers.

Registration

The conference registration is free.

Publication

Proceedings will be published.

Organisation

Musidanse, Université Paris 8

Scientific direction

  • Frédérick Duhautpas

Scientific committee

  • Hélène Marquié (Legs, Université Paris 8),
  • Frédérick Duhautpas (Musidanse, Université Paris 8),
  • Makis Solomos (Musidanse, Université Paris 8),
  • Joël Heuillon (Musidanse, Université Paris 8).

Other researchers should join the committee soon.

Places

  • Université Paris 8
    Saint-Denis, France (93)

Date(s)

  • Thursday, October 15, 2015

Keywords

  • musique, musicologie, genre, contenu musical, processus de subjectivation, femme, homme, diversité sexuelle

Contact(s)

  • Frédérick Duhautpas
    courriel : duhautpas_frederick [at] hotmail [dot] com

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Frédérick Duhautpas
    courriel : duhautpas_frederick [at] hotmail [dot] com

To cite this announcement

« Music and Gender », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Friday, July 17, 2015, https://calenda.org/335269

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