Urban Nostalgia: The Musical City in the 19th and 20th Centuries – Programme

Lola San Martín Arbide Discussion

Dear colleagues,

It is with great pleasure that I would like to announce the programme of the upcoming Urban Nostalgia: The Musical City in the 19th and 20th Centuries conference. 

5–7 July 2020

Centre de Recherches sur les Arts et le Langage (CRAL)

École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS, Paris)

Via Zoom (Central European Summer Time)


Full programme and details: https://www.ehess.fr/sites/default/files/appels/fichiers/urban_nostalgia5_6_2020.pdf

Register via Zoom at: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_tRo1a9djSh2EIaPN7NWs0Q

More information and updates: https://www.ehess.fr/en/node/16865 or at @lola_sanmartin on Twitter


The aim of this conference is to explore space through music, approaching the history of the city via the notion of nostalgia. Often described as a form of homesickness, nostalgia is, by definition, the feeling that makes us wish to repossess or reoccupy a space. Such spaces appear to us as both near and distant, tangible and remote, and it seems that attempts at reclaiming them are frequently musical in nature. We know, for instance, that particular compositions have played important roles in helping people to navigate or mitigate a sense of displacement. In these circumstances, affective experiences may be bound up with trauma or joy, as is the case of song during wartime or musical imaginaries among migrants. Under other conditions, we might identify a ‘second-hand nostalgia’ in the guise of a musically-inflected tourism that seeks to reactivate (for pleasure and/or profit) the historical aura of an urban site. What are we to make of the abundance of personal, inter-personal, and propositional episodes that posit music as some kind of a bridge to the urban past?



 16:00 > 16:30 Welcome and Introduction

Lola San Martín Arbide, CRAL / EHESS, Paris



From Fin-de-siècle to Retromania

Chair: Jonathan Hicks, University of Aberdeen

 Part One. Beirut­–Rome: The Written Discourses of Urban Modernity

 —Beirut in the musical discourse

    Diana Abbani, Freie Universität Berlin

—In memory of Rome. Topographical and musical proofs in Il piacere by Gabriele D'Annunzio 

    Raffaella Carluccio, Università di Parma

(15 minute pause, 17.30 > 17.45)

Part Two. Beirut–Japan in the 1960s

—Beirut the Ancient City of the Future: On Hauntology, Vaporwave, and the Sounds of Nostalgia for Lost Futures

    Ali Jaber, Lebanese University of Fine Arts /American University of Beirut

—From Rustic Hometowns to Dazzling Skylines: Nostalgia, Healing and the Negotiation of Identity in the Urban Cityscapes of Japanese New Music (nyū _myūjikku) 

    Anita Drexler, independent scholar




The City’s Rural Idyll

Chair: Justinien Tribillon, Theatrum Mundi

Heimatsmusik in Prague: Rural nostalgia in the capital? 

     Ondřej Daniel, Charles University Prague, and Jakub Machek, Metropolitan University Prague

 —The transposition of the musical landscape of the Brazilian sertão to the urban environment through Armorial music

     Cecília Pires, CRAL  / EHESS, Paris

 —‘Those Old Melodies Touch Home’: Nostalgia Rurality in Old-Time Music’s Urban Audience (United-States, 1920-1945)

     Manuel Bocquier, Mondes Américains / Centre d’Études Nord-Américaines, EHESS, Paris



Paris: Old, New and Déco

Chair: Gascia Ouzounian, University of Oxford

—Nineteenth-Century Popular Song and the Invention of Le nouveau Paris

    Jack Blaszkiewicz, Wayne State University

 —Mal de Paris: Singing and dancing nostalgia in the late nineteenth-century city

    Tristan Paré-Morin, University of Pennsylvania

 —Paris, art déco, and the spirit of Apollo

     Jonathan Cross, University of Oxford




Musical Palimpsests

Chair: Christabel Stirling, University of Westminster

—‘Deine alten Melodien von der schönen Stadt Berlin’. Popular Song and Urban Nostalgia in Berlin, 1880-1930

     Daniel Morat, Freie Universität Berlin

 —Longing for a Disappearing City: Urban Transformation and Nostalgia in Costumbrista Music Theatre in Late Nineteenth Century San Sebastian

     Asier Odriozola Otamendi, Universidad Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona)

 —The production of urban nostalgias. Montevideo and Buenos Aires’ shared histories of tango 

     Daniel Richter, University of Maryland



Keynote lecture by Richard Elliott, University of Newcastle

Revisiting Old Haunts in a Time of Lockdown:  Holiday Records, Virtuality and the Nostalgia Gap

Respondent: Esteban Buch, CRAL / EHESS, Paris



Concluding thoughts


Scientific committee: Esteban Buch (CRAL / EHESS, Paris); Jonathan Hicks (University of Aberdeen); Gascia Ouzounian (University of Oxford); Lola San Martín Arbide (CRAL / EHESS, Paris); Christabel Sterling (University of Westminster); Justinien Tribillon (Theatrum Mundi).

Organisation: Lola San Martín Arbide (CRAL / EHESS, Paris).


Dr Lola San Martín ArbideMarie Skłodowska-Curie FellowCRAL / EHESS96 Bd. Raspail, Paris 75006http://cral.ehess.fr/index.php?2658lolasanmartinarbide@gmail.com