CALL FOR PAPERS: ‘Early Modern Soundscapes’

Thursday 24th – Friday 25th April 2014, Bangor University

To include the Society for Renaissance Studies Annual Welsh Lecture, given by Professor Jennifer Richards (Newcastle University) and Professor Richard Wistreich (Royal Northern College of Music)

‘The Difficulty of that language is not to bee conceived, and the reasons thereof are especially two:

First, because it hath no affinitie with any other that ever I heard. Secondly, because it consisteth not so much of words and Letters, as of tunes and uncouth sounds, that no letters can expresse. For you have few words, but they signifie divers and severall things, and they are distinguished onely by their tunes that are as it were sung in the utterance of them, yet many words there are consisteth of tunes onely, so as if they like they will utter their mindes by tunes without wordes’ (Francis Godwin, The Man in the Moone, 1638)

Early modern culture was awash with sounds. From psalm singing to tavern songs to the reading of the riot act or town criers announcing noteworthy news, we are presented with an image of oral culture forming the basis of perpetual interaction between individuals and their communities. Music, in particular, forms a backdrop to the soundscape, negotiating abstract sounds and speech. This two-day symposium will interrogate ways of conceiving the early modern soundscape. Topics might include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Sounds and space
  • Sounds sacred
  • Sounds profane
  • Civic noise
  • Imagined soundscapes
  • Interaction between sound and speech communities
  • Oral and literate cultures
  • Music and performance culture
  • Sounds and medicine
  • Sounds and the senses
  • The relationship between words and music

We welcome abstracts of not more than 250 words for twenty-minute papers, or proposals for panels comprising three papers, to be sent to Rachel Willie by December 1st 2013.