Senses of Liturgy

University of Bristol, 21-22 May, 2015

Despite the importance of liturgical commentaries for understanding the liturgical record and the experience of religious practice, particularly in the still largely understudied Old Hispanic Office, they have not received scholarly attention as an important genre for the history of medieval religion. Senses of Liturgy will bring together scholars from across the UK, Europe and the USA over the course of two-days (May 21-22, 2015) in order to discuss liturgical commentary and practice from a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives (musicological, art historical, theological, historical, manuscript studies). The seeks answers to questions that are both methodological and practical. How can liturgical commentaries be studied in conjunction with or in the absence of liturgical sources? What information can they provide to fill in the gaps in the manuscript record? How did the liturgy interact with theology? Was the liturgy influenced by theological movements or vice versa? The involvement of scholars dealing with liturgical and theological sources from a wide chronological and geographical spread will allow us to engage with current scholarly interest in the history of religious experience and performance through the lens of a highly informative genre.

For conference details and the register, click here.

The Council of Constance: Europe in Conversation

Arts Two, Room 3.16, QMUL

Wednesday, May 13, 2015 from 9:45am

The Council of Constance (1414–1418) was a momentous event which witnessed far-reaching debates about the reform of the Church. It also acted as a hugely important forum for the exchange of ideas, texts and traditions from across Europe. The colloquium will highlight the council’s significance to a range of disciplines, including literature, history and music. It will address themes as diverse as the role of the Bohemians at the Council, the interaction between the council and the universities and the dissemination of music at Constance. The colloquium will also address the literary influence of the council, evaluating its place in the European imagination and sixteenth-century political thought.

For details and to register, click here

Sonorous Sublimes: Music and Sound 1670–1850

23 June 2015 – 25 June 2015

University of Cambridge, CRASSH, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, CB3 9DT – SG1&2

This interdisciplinary conference is dedicated to the sublime in music and sound, c.1670–1850. It brings together scholars from across the humanities to re-sound the sublime, from its rise to prominence in the age of Boileau and Lully, to its saturation of European culture in the mid-nineteenth century. The sublime has long been recognised as a crucial cultural category in this period, involved not only in the emergence of aesthetics and radically changing artistic practices, but in politics, science, theology, gender history, histories of the subject, and so on. Until very recently, attention to sonorous sublimes beyond music has circled round a narrow range of terrifying noises – screams, canons, rushing waters – identified in Burke’s famous theory of the sublime. Music itself has appeared as a latecomer to the feast of the sublime, feeding off an established discourse concerned with the verbal and visual. Responding to new developments in musicology and sound studies, this conference aims to explore both the rich variety of sounds heard as sublime by past listeners, and the complex roles played by music in forming and transforming the discourse, practice, and politics of the sublime.

Speakers: Andrew Bowie, Kiene Brillenburg-Wurth, Stijn Bussels, Keith Chapin, Sophie Hache, Lydia Hamlett, Matthew Head, Sarah Hibberd, Nils Holger Peterson, Corinna Russell, Philip Shaw, Elaine Sisman, Miranda Stanyon, David Trippett

For further information and to register online, click here.

Professor Stefan Hanheide – Traces of the Great War in European Music

25 June 2014, 6.30pm
David Sizer Lecture Theatre,
Mile End Campus, Queen Mary
University of London

During and after the First World War many composers commented on the hostilities through their works. We can find demonstrations of patriotism, sorrow and grief, but also criticism of the unprecedented carnage. The noises of the battlefield, hymns and military music were all incorporated. They operate as symbols of the composers’ views of the war. This lecture will present examples of various war-related compositions in different countries. It will discuss how music introduces war noises and discuss why these can only be found to a limited degree.

Stefan Hanheide is Professor of Music History at the University of Osnabrück. His current research focuses on music in the context of political violence. Topics include music related to the Thirty Years War in the seventeeth century and wars and violence during the twentieth century. His recent publications include “Music positions its forces – Functionalisations of Music during the First World War” (2013) and “Pace: Music between war and peace. 40 portraits of compositions” (2007). Since 1993 he has organized concerts In Osnabrück under the title “musica pro pace”.

To book, please visit:

For further information contact
Ms Moushumi Bhowmik
School of History, Room 4.14, Arts 2 Building
Queen Mary University of London
London E1 4NS
Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 8348

Traces of the Great War in European Music Poster

Music, Emotions and Well-being: historical and scientific perspectives

International Conference, 20 June 2014

Robin Brook Centre, Queen Mary University of London

Organised by Penelope Gouk (Manchester), James Kennaway (Newcastle), Jacomien Prins (Warwick), and Wiebke Thormählen (Royal College of Music)

Music is commonly treated as an emotional stimulant that can calm, console or energise. That music can and frequently does contribute to an individual’s sense of well-being is commonly accepted. This relationship between music, the emotions and well-being has been studied from two different perspectives. It has been the subject of historical investigations problematizing what emotions are and exploring historically variant practices of using music as an emotional tool. Secondly, studies by psychologists and, increasingly, by neurologists have produced exciting results by measuring music’s effect on the emotions in physiological terms that appear universal and a-historical. We aim to bring these two seemingly incompatible views of music’s emotional effects together to search for research strategies that can incorporate ideas of cultural conditioning into scientific research methods. As such, the symposium addresses both the role and potential of music in well-being, but it also raises the bar for medical humanities by investigating how its research areas can impact on research questions and strategies beyond the humanities. Delegates will present their views from the fields of neurology, cognitive psychology, music therapy, history and musicology. The symposium will be based on pre-circulated papers to allow maximum discussion time.

In this interdisciplinary research symposium we will bring together historians, musicologists, psychologists, music therapists, and neuroscientists, to look beyond influential yet often un-theorized views of music and ‘emotion’ to explore how music can function as a strategic tool in establishing individual well-being. The relationship between music, the body and the nervous system is the subject of intense interest both in a medical context and in the humanities. While neurologists have researched the impact of music on the brain, musicologists have rediscovered the significance of music’s physical effects in historical and present-day contexts.

These investigations into music’s relationship with emotions and with well-being fall broadly into two categories: scientific understandings of music’s emotional effects commonly take both music and emotions as unproblematic, universal categories; while historical approaches show these categories to be culturally contingent. This duality is entrenched in different methodological approaches which appear to necessitate the duality, yet at the heart of the opposition lies a fundamental discrepancy between different disciplinary groups’ modes of understanding data.

We aim to question the duality’s necessity and explore new ways to merge research questions by investigating how postmodern theories of social and historical conditioning can influence the formulation of scientific research questions. Through this symposium we aim to further an understanding of each field’s research questions and methods, and to explore new collaborative projects.

For further information, including the exact London location, please visit our conference website at:

Liturgy in History

A full-day workshop exploring liturgy in practice in the medieval and early-modern periods.

When: Tuesday 19th November, 9:30 – 17:00 (lunch provided)
Where: Old Library, Garrod Building, Queen Mary Whitechapel Campus

Three speakers – Professor Nils Holger Petersen (University of Copenhagen), Professor Emma Dillon (King’s College London) and Dr Beth Williamson (University of Bristol) – will guide participants through the structure and formulae of liturgical sources. The musical, visual, architectural and performative aspects of the liturgy will all be carefully considered and approaches to liturgy re-interrogated. The presentations will be followed by a roundtable discussion with Professor Miri Rubin (QMUL) and Professor Sara Lipton (SUNY). The day will culminate in a trip to a nearby renaissance church to help situate the liturgies explored in context.

For more information, see

Dr Lars Fischer (UCL): Adorno, the Prohibition of the Image, and Music

Please join us for the second QM Music and Sound seminar for 2013/2014 – it promises to be a fascinating event. All are welcome.

Adorno, the Prohibition of the Image, and Music
Dr Lars Fischer (UCL)
Tuesday November 26, 5–7pm
Francis Bancroft Building, Room 1.02.6
Queen Mary, University of London
Mile End Road E1 4NS

Synthesizing existing scholarship on the specificity (and distinct Jewishness) of Adorno’s understanding of the prohibition of the image in the context of music and revisiting debates on Moses and Aaron and the Survivor from Warsaw, this paper will defend Adorno against prevalent misunderstandings, including the notion that Adorno’s aesthetics are predominantly fixated on the visual.

Lars Fischer was educated at Queen Mary and Westfield College and UCL where he is currently a Teaching Fellow in the Department of History and Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies. Before returning to UCL in 2013, he was the Academic Director of the Centre for the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations in Cambridge and previously held lectureships in German History at UCL and Modern European History at King’s College London. He is a Fellow, and serves on the Council, of the Royal Historical Society and was Secretary of the British Association for Jewish Studies (BAJS) from 2010-2012. His research focuses predominantly on non-Jewish perceptions of ‘the Jew’ and antisemitism and he published a monograph on The Socialist Response to Antisemitism in Imperial Germany with Cambridge University Press in 2007 (paperback 2010). Inter alia, he is currently editing a volume on Constructions of Judaism and Jewishness in Baroque Music and recently completed a chapter on the GDR musicologist Georg Knepler.

Lars Fischer_Adorno_QM Music & Sound

Emma Dillon: Remembering to Forget Seminar October 1 2013

Tuesday 1st October 2013
5pm, ArtsTwo 3.16
Queen Mary, University of London
Mile End Road E1 4NS

Please join Queen Mary’s Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies and QM Music and Sound for the first event of the 2013 academic year. Followed by wine and discussion. Attendance is free; all welcome.

Remembering to Forget: Music, Conversion, and the Early Cistercian Experience

The Cistercian order emerged at the end of the eleventh century, purportedly as a reaction against the decadent excesses associated with the Cluniac tradition. According to the foundational theological and administrative writings of the order, to be Cistercian was to convert; and to convert was to actively forget the trappings of a former religious or secular life. The narrative of conversion and reform appears to correspond to other evidence that early Cistercian houses promoted a reactionary austerity, eschewing decadent material trappings of devotion in favor of a simpler and less distracting devotional environment. That impulse was seemingly true of music: Cistercian liturgy is well-known in the history of medieval chant for its reforms, manifest, for example, in an expunging of melodic ornament and a ban on polyphony.

This paper takes a closer look at the evidence of contemporary writers, music theory and extant liturgical manuscripts and suggests that reforming chant was less an act of erasure or displacement of past traditions. Instead, it argues that there was potentially a virtue in remembering what one was supposed to forget. The paper will draw on materials dating from the mid-twelfth century, when ideals of the order were being codified (and in some instances even retrospectively forged). These include a famous diatribe against polyphony in Aelred of Rievaulx’s Speculum caritatis. So vivid and precise is Aelred’s account of music-making that the writing itself seems to make music present again. Music’s immediacy is further reinforced by the highly affective language and theology by which Aelred expresses his anxiety about music’s power. It begs the question: why would Aelred so carefully record the sound and effect of what was apparently so dangerous? In exploring potential answers, the paper will locate Aelred’s text in a broader contexts of Cistercian musical reform and the theological tenets of conversion. While writers like Bernard of Clairvaux and Aelred advocated the value of remembering to forget in the monk’s experience of God, this paper will suggest that habitual practices of singers and scribes offered the community an embodied experience of the spiritual ideals of Cistercian reform and conversion.

Professor Emma Dillon (King’s College London) studied music at Oxford as an undergraduate (1989-1992), went on to completed a DPhil in 1998, and was also the recipient of a Junior Research Fellowship. She worked as a Lecturer in Music at the University of Bristol (1998-2000). In 2000 she moved to the United States and joined the Music Department at the University of Pennsylvania, where she worked until 2012 first as an Assistant Professor and later as a Full Professor, and where she also served as Chair of the Department. She has also been a Visiting Professor at the University of California at Berkeley, a Member and Visitor at the Institute for Advanced Studies (School of Historical Studies) in Princeton, and a Visiting Scholar at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. She joined the Music Department at King’s in 2013, and is also an active member of the Centre for Late Antique and Medieval Studies.


Reading Poetry Out Loud: Jason Camlot Seminar May 29

Please join us for QMUL Distinguished Visiting Fellow Professor Jason Camlot’s lecture “Reading Poetry Out Loud: Approaches to Historical Literary Recordings” on Wednesday 29 May at 5pm. The talk will take place in Room 3.16, Arts One. All are welcome.

Reading Poetry Out Loud: Approaches to Historical Literary Recordings

This talk will discuss the history of poetry recitation from the eighteenth-century to the present with an emphasis on how historical audio recordings may play a role in our understanding of the changing significance of reading poetry out loud. Among the poets to be discussed, and recordings to be heard, are those made by Alfred Tennyson, Victorian elocutionists, T.S. Eliot, Robert Creeley, and David Antin.

Jason Camlot is Associate Professor in the Department of English at Concordia University in Montreal. He is the author of Style and the Nineteenth-Century British Critic (Ashgate, 2008), co-editor of Language Acts: Anglo-Québec Poetry, 1976 to the 21st Century (Vehicle, 2007) which was a finalist for the 2007 Prix Gabrielle-Roy, as well as three collections of poetry, The Animal Library (2000), Attention All Typewriters (2005) and The Debaucher (2008). He is currently completing a book about literature and sound recording, Phonopoetics: Approaching Early Literary Recordings, and is the principal investigator of a major interdisciplinary, collaborative research project, SpokenWeb: Developing a Comprehensive Web-Based Digital Spoken Word Archive for Literary Research (

The Arbour

On Thursday, April 26, members of QM Music and Sound joined students at The Arbour community centre as part of their English Language and Mentoring programme for women newly arrived in the UK ( We discussed song and poetry in British culture and our own lives, learnt about vocal production and projection, and explored some springtime songs and poems from the thirteenth to the twentieth century. Many thanks to QM’s Jo Paul for organizing the workshop .