CFP: Articles for an edited collection on Western art music and historical materialism

Benjamin Korstvedt's picture
Call for Papers
January 9, 2019 to February 22, 2019
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
Cultural History / Studies, German History / Studies, Humanities, Intellectual History, Music and Music History


We are seeking proposals for articles to be included in an edited collection on Western art music and historical materialism (title and publisher TBC).

Submissions of proposals to Dr Jeremy Coleman by Friday 22nd February 2019. Decisions to be communicated by early April 2019. Any queries about the Call for Proposals and the book project may be addressed to Dr Coleman.

Proposals should be between 500 and 1000 words in length.

Full essays (which are not required at this stage) should be between 6000 and 8000 words in length, including any footnotes.

Call for Proposals:  In the current century, Marxist thought and musicology have only occasionally combined in critical writing or scholarly research. Indeed, Western musicology has only ever engaged with historical materialism in narrowly selective ways. The great exception to this is the persistent and widespread influence of Adorno and critical methodologies derived from his writings on music. Yet in the last several decades new interpretations of and approaches derived from Marxist critique and historical materialism have flourished in other fields of study, notably cultural studies, literary criticism, art history, media studies, and critical philosophy.

Following the 2018 international symposium on music history and historical materialism hosted by the Ernst Bloch Centre for German Thought (Institute of Modern Languages Research, School of Advanced Study, University of London) and at the close of the bicentenary of the birth of Karl Marx, we invite proposals for essays that pursue a critical encounter between Western art music history and historical materialism and/or Marxist thought for an edited collection. Proposals of 500-1000 words in length should be submitted to Dr Jeremy Coleman by e-mail ( by Friday 22nd February 2019. Proposals should be submitted in Word (.docx) or .pdf format.  Please note that full essays, which are not required at this stage, should be between 6000 and 8000 words in length. We encourage submissions from scholars of various disciplines, including but not limited to music studies, history, philosophy, theology, psychoanalysis, social and political theory, and literary criticism. Essays should be written in such a way as to address an interdisciplinary scholarly readership.

This collection seeks proposals that offer invigorating and imaginative Marx-inspired reflections on music history and music criticism. Historical materialist ideas have so far found greater resonance in popular music studies and in ethnomusicology than in Western art music historiography. The focus of the collection is therefore on Western art music history with respect variously to its entanglement in industrial capitalism, bourgeois liberalism and modernity. The aim of this project is not merely to excavate cases of officially Marxist historiographies of music, nor to consider music in relation to self-identifying Marxist, communist or socialist individuals and political regimes, but – taking a more speculative approach – to evaluate the potential of Marxist thought for historical musicology, philosophy of music and music criticism in its broadest sense.

Papers may either take a theoretical/philosophical approach or be more case-study-oriented, focusing on any historical time, place and culture within the above-indicated parameters. However, we particularly welcome papers that address the following topics:

Music History and Modes of Production

Historical Perspectives on Musical Labour

Musical Value: music criticism, canonicity, theories of value

Radical Temporalities: Musical Time – Historical Time – Labour Time

Musical Production, Exchange and Consumption

Music and the Commodity

‘Natural History’, Reification, Alienation

Hope, Utopia, Anticipation

Musical Material and Materialism(s)

Public and Private Musical Spaces

Music Criticism, Discourse, Ideology

Humanist vs. Anti-Humanist Marxism

Form, Content and Expression

Contact Info: 

Department of Music, University of Aberdeen,