6-7 March 2024, Bern
Conference venue: University of Bern, Switzerland
CFP deadline: 15 July 2023
Since Catherine Clément's seminal work on the intertwining of opera plots and violence against women (Clément 1988), a growing number of musicologists have critically engaged with the representation of sexual violence against women in canonical operas and their stagings (Cormier 2020), and questioned the persistence of rape culture in new productions (Cusick et al. 2018; Harper-Scott 2009). This scholarship has successfully examined rape as a “violent performative of systemic, gendered power” (Cusick et al. 2018, 217). Building on this scholarship, this two-day conference aims to broaden the perspective and specifically examine not only rape of women in opera, but also femicides and sexual violence against men and non-binary people, under the theme of gendered violence in music theatre in the 20th and 21st centuries. Particularly in light of the recent increased awareness of gender-based violence against women through phenomena such as the #MeToo movement and the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to explore if and how these events have influenced the commissioning of new music theatre productions on the themes of rape, femicide and gender-based violence, or the staging of opera and music theatre repertoire from the 20th and 21st centuries. Assuming that the #MeToo movement and the COVID-19 pandemic have increased public awareness and sensitivity to the issue, the conference aims to explore whether there has been an increase in funding strategies for commissioning music theatre or staging music theatre productions on these themes. The conference will also discuss whether and how new compositions and new stagings of 20th century repertoire reflect current discourses on power and gender-based violence (also against men) and refuse to re-stage problematic power relations. In addition, the conference aims to broaden the previously exclusive perspective of the Global North to include discussions of productions from the Global South and their social significance.
We invite presentations from scholars and practitioners on the following topics:
How have the #MeToo movement and the COVID-19 pandemic influenced the commissioning and staging of new music theatre productions on rape, femicide and gender-based violence?
– How do composers tackle the issues of rape, femicide and gender-based violence in terms of music aesthetics?
– How do composers and librettists narrate issues of rape, femicide and gender-based violence?
– Does the representation of rape, femicide and gender-based violence differ in comparison to theatre and film?
– How are canonical operas staged to address issues of rape, femicide and gender-based violence?
– Do contemporary musical theatre compositions about rape, femicide and gender-based violence have an activist moment?
– Do contemporary musical theatre compositions about rape, femicide and gender-based violence cross genre boundaries?
– How does opera studies deal with these issues in its historiography?
– Do opera and music theatre have a social function in societies, and have productions on rape, femicide and gender-based violence been part of applied theatre productions or social projects?
– Rape, femicide and gender-based violence are global phenomena: Can national aesthetic distinctions be made in narrative forms? How can these issues be dealt with sensitively in different cultures?
Preference will be given to proposals that explore research questions through clear theoretical and methodological approaches, rather than simply offering descriptive accounts.
Lena van der Hoven and Luis Velasco-Pufleau Conference convenors
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Jeudi 13 Juillet, 2023