CFP: Seeing and Hearing the “Beyond”

Seeing and Hearing the ‘Beyond’: Art, Music and Mysticism in the Long Nineteenth Century, Association for Art History annual conference

Dates: 5th – 7th April 2018

Location: Courtauld Institute of Art and King’s College London

This interdisciplinary session will explore the dialogue between art and music in addressing the subject of mysticism in the long nineteenth century (1789 – 1918). To counteract the positivist current that gained momentum during the period, artistic circles gravitated towards mystical means that initiated the beholder and listener into truths that transcended the world of external appearances. The session seeks to gauge the scope of different interpretations of mysticism and to illuminate how an exchange between art and music may unveil an underlying stream of metaphysical, supernatural, and spiritual ideas over the course of the century.

The multiple facets of mysticism manifested across a diverse range of styles, aesthetics, and movements. As esotericism saturated America, Europe and Britain, the Romantics and Symbolists responded to mystical beliefs expressed in Swedenborgianism, Spiritualism, Theosophy and Occultism while drawing on exposures to Eastern religions. Re- interpretations of pagan mysticism prompted the rediscovery of Folkloric primitivism. Meanwhile, Catholic and evangelical revivals alongside renewed interest in Medievalism revitalised Christian themes. In practice, the proliferation of occult revivals at the fin-de-siècle permeated the thematic programmes of artists and composers. Wagner’s operas underscored the link between music, myth, and mysticism through the synthesis of the arts: the Gesamtkunstwerk. Subsequently, Syncretism in mystical philosophies was paralleled by formal correspondences in the visual arts, especially in their “rhythmical” qualities. Synesthesia would instigate the development of abstraction.

This session invites submissions that extend on these ideas by investigating how the interconnectedness between art and music was able to evoke and be inspired by mysticism. Papers drawn from other periods that examine the origins and newer forms of mystical appropriations will be considered, and those which incorporate perspectives across the spectrum of visual culture and musicology are particularly welcome.

 Session Convenors:

  • Dr. Michelle Foot, University of Edinburgh – History of Art (Scotland)
  • Dr. Corrinne Chong, Independent Researcher – History of Art, Word and Music Studies (Canada)

Proposals responding to the session abstract should be emailed direct to both the session convenors. Please provide a title and abstract (250 words maximum) for a 25-minute paper, your name and institutional affiliation (if any).

Deadline for submission is 6th November 2017

For more information about the conference please see the event website.

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