“Music in American Nineteenth Century History”
Abstracts Due — 30 September 2021
Draft Papers Due — 30 May 2022
Symposium – mid-June 2022 (tentative)
Full Papers Due for peer review — 30 September 2022
Planned publication — mid-2023
In the nineteenth-century United States, music was everywhere: at work, leisure, and prayer; in places of worship and in the home, on the battlefield and on the path of reform; in times of joy, in times of crisis, and in times of mourning. And yet in comparison to literature or art and material culture, music and musical practice remain largely unsung within nineteenth-century US historiography. Thus until recently most historians ignored music–or considered its analysis beyond the bounds of historical inquiry. As a result, music has only begun to be treated as integral to the nineteenth-century experience, or analysed through a historical lens that sees and hears the world first and foremost through historical processes–social, economic, political, cultural, environmental–rather than through practices, parameters, and personnel derived from and internal to the world of music.
Nonetheless, recent developments suggest that nineteenth-century American history is undergoing a musical turn. The aim of this special issue is to build on this momentum by bringing together members of a growing, but disparate community of historians; musicologists; and historically-minded interdisciplinary scholars, for a timely conversation on music and nineteenth-century American history spanning the Revolution to the invention of recorded sound. Possible topics include:
- What relationships existed between the many profound social transformations of the nineteenth century (e.g., emancipation; mass education/literacy; conquest; mass migration) and musical change?
- How did the many forms of transregional encounter that characterised the nineteenth-century US (empire/conflict, migration, commerce, evangelism, reform) interact with musical exchange, both inside the US and globally?
- How can historians make sense of the many diverse settings for nineteenth-century US music, and the transformations that occurred both within those settings (congregations; domestic spaces; townscapes; military contexts; commercial stages; etc.) and in terms of overall shifts (e.g., the displacement of music-making in informal settings to performance in dedicated, often commercial spaces?)
- How did the gendering of music relate to broader historical trends?
- How did technological rupture–from mass print to recorded sound–transform musical practice and the place of music in American life?
- How did music contribute to the construction of race and concepts of racial difference across the long nineteenth century?
- What was the relationship between music, nation-making, and nationalism in nineteenth-century America? How did it evolve over time and space?
- How did music practices, or perceptions of musical power, map onto different political ideologies or partisan-based identities?
- How can historians think through the many binary relationships in nineteenth-century American music such as sacred/secular, commercial/non-commercial, signed/anonymous, individual/communal, private/public, written/oral, recorded/unrecorded, formal/informal?
- What historiographical trends have shaped the incorporation of music into nineteenth-century American history over time? What new methodological opportunities may offer the most constructive paths forward?
- How can scholars leverage recent technological and metahistorical developments to make historical music available to listeners and usable in the history classroom?
We seek submissions of 300–500 word abstracts proposing articles for consideration for publication, with full manuscripts to follow. In addition to the abstract, please advise us of your interest and capacity to participate in a symposium event for workshopping drafts (whether in-person or in a hybrid digital format). Please also advise us of your potential interest in, and any musical or technical skills you may be willing to contribute to, a possible soundtrack album aimed at facilitating the use of this research in the classroom. Acceptance of an abstract does not mean acceptance of a paper and submitted papers will proceed through American Nineteenth Century History’s usual peer-review process.