Transfigured Voices: Vocal disorders, disruptions and impersonations

deadline for submissions: 
May 17, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
University of CAEN - ERIBIA

Transfigured Voices:

Vocal disorders, disruptions and impersonations.

International Conference

University of Caen Normandie

17May- 18 May 2018

 Organising committee :


-ERIBIA research team, Caen University (France)

-IDEA research team, Lorraine University (France)


General theme: The conference aims to examine the configurations and representations of the modified, alienated or affected sung voice in literature and the arts.

Main objectives:

 In Gaston Leroux’s 1910 Phantom of the Opera, a young opera singer, who is about to lose her voice after her father’s death, becomes wildly successful thanks to the lessons given by a mysterious “Angel of Music.” In turn, the official prima donna makes a fool of herself while singing her showpiece aria, as she croaks a wrong note, which the author identifies in jest with spitting up a real toad. In this text, Leroux recycles a melomaniac literary tradition which, ever since E.T.A. Hoffmann’s fantastic tales, has nourished a fertile imagination surrounding singing and voicessuch asthe mechanical, mystical, ghostly or forbidden voices which the characters in Jacques Offenbach’s 1881 Tales of Hoffmann take turn illustrating.


This conference seeks to investigate the representations of the sung voice in relation to states of alienation or transformation. We particularly seek to address the notion of transfiguration or metamorphosis which can be conceived of as a result or a phenomenon, a process or a technique. In what circumstances does the voice stop being smooth, transparent and self-evident, and instead, becomes a hindrance which troubles us? What voices make us feel ill-at-ease? What forms of vocality embarrass us to the point of causing rejection? When could we speak of friction and discordance between voices rather than harmonious relationships? What happens when the voice will no longer respond and sinks into illness and mutism instead?


Papers are invited in three research areas:

1. Vocal disorders and afflictions: the conference will focus on vocal damage and ailments. It will deal with silenced vocality, the notions of vocal discomfort and trauma, oppressed and stifled voices. It will also discuss hoarseness, loss of voice and all sorts of pathological states of phonation.


2. Disruptions and transgressions: papers are invited to question voice-related transgressions as well as all kinds of conflicts or tensions between spoken and sung voices (such as passages between recitative and aria). It is also possible to look into the issue of lost and recovered voices.


3. Vocal impersonations and transformations: the conference will discuss the blurring of vocal categories, generic exchanges, the issues of the ambiguous sexual and erotic aspects of the voice. It will also cover the topics of voices technologically transformed, such as those found in recordings or in cases of mechanical transformation of the voice, and examples of artificially created voices or misleading uses of vocality.


 A selection of papers from the conference will be published.

Disciplinary fields involved:


  • drama studies

  • music

  • opera studies

  • cinema

  • visual and plastic arts

  • gender studies

  • psychology and medicine

 Organizing committee:

 Gilles Couderc

Nathalie Massoulier 

Marcin Stawiarski

 Scientific committee:

 Claudine Armand (Lorraine University)

Frédéric Sounac (Toulouse University)

Gilles Couderc (Caen University)

Jean-Philippe Heberlé (Lorraine University

Marcin Stawiarski (Caen University)

Pierre Degott, (Lorraine University)

Nathalie Massoulier (Caen University)

Nathalie Vincent-Arnaud (Toulouse University)

 Key Speaker:

Stephen Varcoe, singer 

 Abstract guidelines:

 -The committee will welcome abstracts in English of no more than 500 words and a mini-biography.

Please send your abstracts simultaneously to:,

 -Submission Deadline: 15 January 2018

 After undergoing the reviewing process by the scientific panel, all authors will be informed about acceptance of their abstract before 1 February 2018.

 Registration fee:


The registration fee: 40 euros (payable by March, 31st).

We will be looking forward to seeing you at this international event.