02 February 2018

Call for Papers – "Resonance...

International conference, Frankfurt/M.
6–8 December 2018

"Resonance as a paradigm in music sociology and cultural studies."

Please send your title and abstract (max. 300 words) together with a short bio and some information about your main research to resonanzen@ae.mpg.de by 30 April 2018.

The conference is organized by: Melanie Wald-Fuhrmann (MPIEA), Karsten Mackensen (Gießen University, spokesman of the Fachgruppe Soziologie und Sozialgeschichte der Musik in the Gesellschaft für Musikforschung) und Wolfgang Fuhrmann (Mainz University).

The concept of “resonance” is well on its way to becoming a new paradigm in cultural studies. Originally an acoustic phenomenon – describing the forced oscillation of material bodies – it is also a common metaphor for the interaction between different realms of social reality. Recently it has attracted further attention due to increased interest in sounds and the sonic in general. The word “resonance” alone – being ambiguous and enigmatic – opens up a broad field of connotations and metaphorical attributions, which is one possible reason for the resonance the word finds in many fields of cultural research. This can be seen not only in the field of musicology but also in philosophical aesthetics (Grüny 2013), and quite prominently in sociology (Rosa 2016; Wetzel 2014 a and b; cf. Peters/Schulz 2017). However, Dietmar Wetzel makes an important point, which accounts for reservations found towards applying this concept in music sociology: “From a critical perspective, in my view we have to prevent the fascinating omnipresent and ubiquitously discussed phenomenon from becoming a ‘plastic word’, explaining everything and nothing at the same time” (Wetzel 2014b, 18).

Therefore, the challenge faced is to test the concept’s ability to contribute to theoretical explanation and understanding of music-sociological phenomena as an alternative to older, deterministic models. Our interest is directed toward the social effects of music. Might such effects be described more adequately in terms of (positive or negative) resonances that require certain corresponding dispositions by the respective social agents? The crucial point is the sociologically highly intricate problem of creating a theoretical model of the link between forms of aesthetical communication and other social realms. Consequently, the problem includes aesthetical concerns – without any attempt to reduce aesthetics to sociology.

The conference is professionally situated in the field of music sociology, understood as a space for the encounter of historical and systematic musicology, sociology of culture and cultural history. Contributions are welcome from all areas of research that discuss culture and society, including philological or empirical approaches, cultural or anthropological, philosophical, aesthetical, media theoretical, and social psychological methodologies. The central issue is the definition of resonance as a music-sociological category. This endeavour is dependent on exploring the plurality of contributing aspects within this broad field. The organizers suggest a concentration on two main areas: sociological, aesthetical and cultural approaches on the one hand, and studies from physiology, cognitive science and social psychology on the other. The integration or demarcation of these two areas might in the end form a major topic of the discussion. From the organizers’ point of view, historical case studies are as important as strict theoretical systematizations of the topic.

The conference will take place at the Max-Planck-Institut (MPIEA) für empirische Ästhetik in Frankfurt am Main (Grüneburgweg 14).

We will respond with a decision by end of April. In cases of hardship, expenses for travel and stay can be covered; please do not hesitate to contact the organizers informally.


Contributions might address the following issues:

  • theoretical models and case studies of the interaction between music and other realms of society and culture
  • historical roots of the resonance-concept: cultures of knowledge, acoustic experiments, Platonic-Pythagorean or further epistemic backgrounds
  • reasons for the recent attractiveness of “resonance” in cultural and social studies
  • problematization of music’s potential to enable or trigger psychic, political, religious etc. resonances
  • possibilities of a psychological or neuroscientific theory of resonance
  • considerations on socio-motorical resonance
  • artistic research and artistic practice in the context of resonance



 Adam, Meike (2009): Soziomotorische Resonanz. Spiegelneuronen und ihre mögliche Bedeutung für menschliche Kommunikation. In: Resonanz. Potentiale einer akustischen Figur, hrsg. v. Karsten Lichau et al., München: Fink, S. 325–338

Grüny, Christian (2013): Artikulation und Resonanz. Sprachverstehen als zwischenleiblicher Vorgang. In: Emmanuel Alloa und Miriam Fischer (Hg.): Leib und Sprache. Zur Reflexivität verkörperter Ausdrucksformen, Weilerswist: Velbrück (Kulturen der Leiblichkeit Bd. 1), S. 79–91

Peters, Christian Helge und Peter Schulz, Hrsg. (2017): Resonanzen und Dissonanzen. Hartmut Rosas kritische Theorie in der Diskussion, Bielefeld: transcript

Rosa, Hartmut (2016): Resonanz. Eine Soziologie der Weltbeziehung, Berlin: Suhrkamp

Wetzel, Dietmar (2014a): Auf der Suche nach Resonanz und Anerkennung – eine ethnographische Analyse moderner Subjektivierungsverhältnisse im Fitness-Studio. Working Paper der DFG-KollegforscherInnengruppe Postwachstumsgesellschaften, Nr. 6/2014, Jena

Wetzel, Dietmar (2014b): Polyamouröse Beziehungen als gelingende Lebensform? Resonanz- und anerkennungsanalytische Reflexionen. Working Paper der DFG-KollegforscherInnengruppe Postwachstumsgesellschaften, Nr. 08/2014, Jena