"Sounds of the Future: Musical and Sonic Anticipation in American Culture" - Deadline for Proposals August 30, 2013

full name / name of organization: 
Jeanne Cortiel and Christian Schmidt, University of Bayreuth

"Sounds of the Future: Musical and Sonic Anticipation in American Culture" Special issue of the online journal Act: Zeitschrift für Musik und Performance

For the longest time, America has viewed itself and has been viewed by others as a forward-looking, future-oriented culture, "the great nation of futurity", as the journalist John O'Sullivan put it in 1839. American cultural history has been significantly shaped by utopian, chiliastic, and millennial movements, ideologies, and belief systems, as well as their dystopian and apocalyptic counterparts. It has thus been seen as a fundamentally visionary culture with the sense of sight at the core of this perception. Yet the anticipation of the future acts upon the present moment through all of our senses. This special issue thus seeks to broaden the scope to include the music and the sounds that serve to anticipate possible futures. More precisely, we are looking for contributions that read anticipations of the future in and through the soundscapes and musicscapes through which they are being presented in various media to imagine an unknowable, potentially dangerous and destructive, future.

For our purposes, we want to understand anticipation in the widest possible – and thus not only cognitive – sense: By anticipating the "sounds of the future," we would like to engage the manifold ways in which music helps us think about possible futures, complete with catastrophic scenarios, paradisiacal visions, utopian or dystopian anticipations of the Future, or the unknowable music and sounds of the posthuman beyond the "singularity." In this respect, anticipation is what cognitive musicologist David Huron has called a "sense of the future."

We are looking for a wide range of explorations that deal with musical and sonic futures in a variety of genres and media, including but not limited to fiction, graphic narratives, music videos, film, and live performances. Nor do we want to restrict the timeframe to our contemporary futures; potential contributors might want to look at 19th century anticipations of a future that, by now, has become the past. Possible topics thus could include:
• Musical and sonic anticipation in performance art and theater;
• Visions of the future as presented in protest songs such as "We Shall Overcome";
• The role of music and sounds in anticipating the future scenarios of science fiction films such as Christopher Nolan's Inception or James Cameron's Avatar;
• Onomatopoeic sound effects in dystopian superhero graphic narratives such as Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Strikes Again;
• How are sound and music being used to imagine the future in utopian/dystopian fiction?
• The interconnection of complex time signatures and abstract visual performance (of the posthuman?) in music videos such as "Schism" by the American rock band Tool;
• Sun Ra's interconnected Afro-Futurist Jazz and film projects.

All contributions should address the central question of this issue, namely, how does hearing – in cooperation with vision and other senses – help us anticipate the future.
Potential contributors are asked to submit abstracts of no more than 500 words and a brief CV before August 30, 2013. Those selected for inclusion will be invited to submit full articles (5,000 to 7,000 words) by December 31, 2013. Inquiries concerning potential essay topics and their suitability for inclusion are welcome. Please include your professional/academic affiliations, a postal address, and preferred e-mail contact with your essay; for purposes of double-blind peer-review, please do not include your name within the body of the essay. Please send inquiries or completed abstracts to either Jeanne Cortiel (jeanne.cortiel@uni-bayreuth.de) or Christian Schmidt (christian.schmidt@uni-bayreuth.de). We accept contributions in either English or German. All contributions will be peer-reviewed (double-blind).

Please find all relevant information and the full call for papers at: