CFP. Seminar on Jacques Rancière and Music.
17-20 March 2016. American Comparative Literature Association.
Harvard University, Cambridge MA.

Dear Colleagues. I am writing to invite participation in a seminar proposal entitled “Divisions on a Ground: Rancière and Music,” for the annual meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association, to take place on the 17th to the 20th of March, 2016, at Harvard University. I have pasted below the text of the call for participation.

The ACLA has an unusual conference format. Panels (called “seminars” by the ACLA) comprise either 8 or 12 persons, and address a single topic over the course of two or three days, respectively. Normally four people present on any given day, and usually ample opportunity is given participants to respond to papers. Participation in the panel requires a three-day commitment in March (two days, if the panel is only 8 persons). (Membership in any given panel depends on acceptance by the panel organizer. Presentation at ACLA is limited to one panel a year.)  Here is the conference website:

Those interested in participating in the panel on Rancière should submit paper proposals via the ACLA website during the first three weeks of September (by September 23 at the latest). At the same time, I encourage them to contact me directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. At the end of September, if there are enough papers submitted to make a coherent whole, I shall put a panel together and propose it to the conference organizers. The panel will then be reviewed by the ACLA conference organizers and either accepted or rejected. (I have always referred to my participation in ACLA as peer reviewed.) If the Rancière panel is accepted by the ACLA, then it will meet at Harvard in March for three hours on three successive days (or as a smaller seminar for three hours on two days).

To express interest in joining the Rancière panel, please go to the master list of seminars at: and follow the instructions therein. The list contains all the potential seminars. You can use as search term either "Ranciere" or "music" to locate the appropriate seminar.

Please forward this call where relevant.

With best wishes,
Murray Dineen
School of Music
University of Ottawa
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Divisions on a Ground: Rancière and Music.

This seminar focuses on Rancière’s thought about aesthetics and philosophy as it might be applied to music. The seminar organizers encourage the use of Jairo Moreno and Gavin Steingo’s article “Rancière’s Equal Music” (Contemporary Music Review 31, nos. 5-6 [2013], 487-505) as a point of reference. Participants need not limit themselves, however, to that article in terms of theoretical framework or subject matter.

Rancière’s common or fundamental ground lies in the sensible, the sensorium, that which is capable of being apprehended by the senses. The idea of a sensorium would appeal to music scholars as a traditional problem in music aesthetics. Rancière’s notions of distribution and redistribution in regimes of art, however, offer a new prospect for musical research and insight. Where it involves the perception of music, the sensorium is a locus for classification and reclassification, distribution and redistribution. It is not restricted, in this regard, as an originating, specifically musical sense. Rather, the sensible offers a vehicle for musicaldissensus – a means for redistribution, for taking over the distribution of communal “musical” sensoria. Implicit here is a division from the privileged self (the solipsistic element in music criticism). In lieu of concentrating on the individual musical self, the seminar would address instances of partition and partaking (Moreno and Steingo, 489), equality and inequality among participants in the making of music. In this regard, the seminar organizers welcome discussion of the politics of music where this involves the framing of a particular sphere of experience (Rancière, Aesthetics and Its Discontents, 2009) in distinction or outright opposition to the policed distribution of the sensible.

Among the areas open to seminar discussion as points of departure, the organizers note the three “solutions” – ethical, poetic, and aesthetic – to the division of the musical community (“whole” model community versus the “lot” of the individual musician) proposed by Moreno and Steingo (489). Their corresponding “anti-political philosophies” – archipolitics, parapolitics, andmetapolitics – as defined by Rancière offer further ground for seminar discussion.  In addition, the seminar organizers welcome discussion of mimesis in music, of ethical musicality, modernity, and negation, where these involve Rancière’s thought. Papers are encouraged where they touch on critical theorists in relation to Rancière, such as the young- or post-Althusserians Balibar, Badiou, Laclau, Macherey, and Mouffe, or theorists such as Adorno, Agamben, Schmitt, or Zizek, where the ground of the relation is music.

Lastly, the seminar organizers welcome the application of Rancière’s thought to particular instances of musical practice.

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