Leonard Cohen: An Interdisciplinary Conference

Catherine Gander's picture
Call for Papers
December 1, 2019
Ireland {Republic}
Subject Fields: 
Canadian History / Studies, Literature, Music and Music History, Philosophy, Religious Studies and Theology

Leonard Cohen: An Interdisciplinary Conference.


12-13 June 2020

Maynooth University, Ireland



“Religion, teachers, women, drugs, the road, fame, money… nothing gets me high and offers relief from the suffering like blackening pages, writing.”

– Leonard Cohen



Leonard Cohen’s body of work challenges and bridges many oppositions. A poet and novelist of significant talent, he chose a career as a songwriter and musical performer in order to reach a larger audience. Jewish, Cohen from an early stage in his career also explored the Christian faith. Eager to transcend the boundaries of Western religion, he then immersed himself in Buddhism and Hinduism. Yet, despite his profound religiosity, Cohen spoke to the difficulties of having any faith at all in a world full of pain and suffering. Writing—music, lyrics, poetry, letters, notes—was perhaps Cohen’s first and last true faith. Known for the searing humanity of his lyrics and the intensity of his vocal delivery, he wrote and sang of an existential melancholy shot through with dark humour and a delight in the particulars of the world.  

In many ways, Cohen, even after his death, remains the bard of our time: a poet of our multicultural, globalized society that has lost all the old certainties while human beings continue to long for transcendence. This conference will address all aspects of Cohen’s multifaceted persona, work, and legacy, with an emphasis on interdisciplinarity. “It’s all song, and it’s all poetry”, as Cohen’s son Adam recently noted, “for him there wasn’t any delineation.”


Keynote speakers:          

Prof. Chantal Ringuet (The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, USA)

Prof. William Desmond (Villanova University, USA; Higher Institute of Philosophy, University of Louvain, Belgium)


Abstracts for three-person panels, roundtables, and for individual 20-minute papers, are invited on any topic related to Cohen.

Please note that all-male panels are strongly discouraged.

Papers may address, but need not be restricted to:


  • Cohen and music
  • Cohen as performer
  • Cohen as singer-songwriter
  • Cohen’s legacy and influence
  • Cohen and philosophy
  • Cohen and religion
  • Cohen and poetry
  • Cohen and the visual arts
  • Cohen, emotion, affect
  • Cohen and humour
  • Cohen and ‘lateness’
  • Cohen and death/the art of living
  • Cohen and interdisciplinarity/cross-mediality
  • Cohen and relationships



Please send submissions and 100-word biographies by December 1st 2019 to: cohenconferencemaynooth@gmail.com

Contact Info: 

Conference organising committee (in alphabetical order):


Dr Catherine Gander (English)

Professor Tom O’Connor (Arts and Humanities Institute director/History)

Professor Philipp Rosemann (Philosophy)

Dr Laura Watson (Music)