Call for Papers

Music Festival Studies: Current Perspectives, Future Directions

Festivals have emerged as important sites of inquiry in research on music making. This conference will harness the energy of current scholarship on music festivals and contribute to the formation of new knowledge in a wide-ranging, interdisciplinary, and collaborative series of formal paper sessions, workshops, and a panel discussion with festival practitioners.

We invite proposals for twenty-minute papers from scholars at any stage in their careers, working in any discipline, who engage with musics of any genre in festival environments. Conference themes will include (but not be limited to): community and identity formation; economics (branding/marketing, funding, labor dynamics, etc.); the experiences (aesthetic, cultural, embodied, and social) that festival participation facilitates; institutional mechanisms; media and spectacle; politics; the production of culture; social mediation; and the relationship of festivals to the spaces and places in which they occur (including online and other “virtual” locations). We welcome research that draws on historical, ethnographic, and/or sociological methods to illuminate the significance and particularity of music festivals in history, in culture, throughout the world, and as part of the contemporary moment.

In addition to traditional papers on individual research topics, the conference will feature two workshops on theories and methodologies relevant to music festival research. Small group work and facilitated discussion will draw on participants’ diverse research agendas, personal experiences, and scholarly approaches. Each participant will therefore be asked in advance to suggest readings to guide our work during this integral part of the conference. Our goal is to create and share an innovative “festival syllabus” and digital coursepack that will sharpen our current thinking and spur future research.

The Saturday afternoon plenary session will explore the institutional practices and values that are shaping music festival culture on a local scale through a panel discussion with artists and administrators connected with music festivals in Massachusetts. 

Please send 350-word abstracts to:

Deadline: October 15, 2019


  • Lisa Jakelski, Eastman School of Music
  • Emily Richmond Pollock, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Caitlin Schmid, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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