[Skip to Content]

We welcome paper and panel proposals on all subjects that relate music to religion. The section is eager to cultivate scholarship in music and religion from a wide array of religions, time periods, and cultural practices. To that end, for the 2021 meeting in San Antonio, we are particularly seeking

1.      The Music and Religion section is perpetually interested in panels that combine performance and scholarly reflection, and/or book panel discussions that help to advance the field. These ideas can be incorporated into any of the other ideas below.

2.      Religion, Music, Law and Outlaws – Music and incarceration, exploitation of “bad boy” roles, ethical questions in “outlaw” music, oppositional musical stances in regard to religion,

3.      Music and Poverty, related to the 2021 Conference Theme, "Religion, Poverty and Inequality: Contemplating Our Collective Futures” – considering access to music, music-making and musical instruments in conditions of poverty and structural racism, and how religious institutions ameliorate or exacerbate these conditions; how does food insecurity shape musical lives; music in public housing; it is also the 50th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s birthplace being turned into a museum in Tupelo (https://elvispresleybirthplace.com/)

4.      Myth-making processes in popular music: Selena, Tupac, Elvis, etc.

5.      Shape-note singing – It is the 200th anniversary of Ananias Davisson’s Kentucky Harmony

6.      Representations of religion in opera, with a particular look at orientalism and racial discourses (it is 150 years since the premier of Verdi’s Aïda)

7.      East African forms of Christianity and ancient East African religions (e.g. Kemet)

8.      Sacred music of Stravinsky

9.      James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing”

10. Mahavishnu Orchestra – The Inner Mounting Flame (album) 50th anniversary

11. Spiritual discourses around late Beethoven

12. American Transcendentalist ideas in 20th century American art music – Ives, Ruggles, Cowell

13. Non-Western musics, particularly Native American, South Asian, East Asian, Australian, and African, either contemporary or historical

14. Topics not covered herein are also acceptable, provided they are directly related to music and religion


Mission Statement:

The discipline of religious studies is expanding beyond linguistic rationality to include the importance of musical phenomena in the development of healthy religious communities and religious consciousness. Meanwhile, theological aesthetics is moving beyond the textual to include music as a resource in its own right for constructive and transformative meaning-making. Music, religiously speaking, is no mere adjunct to the study of sacred space, ritual, visual art, liturgy, or philosophical aesthetics; rather, it is a distinct field in its own right — with its own particular content, methods, and norms. By placing the relationship between music and religion at the center of our endeavor, this Unit seeks to serve scholars who operate out of this ubiquitous, but ironically unrepresented, realm of academic pursuit within the guild.

Method of Submission:




Alisha L. Jones, jonesall@indiana.edu

Jennifer Rycenga, jennifer.rycenga@sjsu.edu


Steering Committee:

Lisa M. Allen, lallen@itc.edu

Jason C. Bivins, jcbivins@ncsu.edu

Benjamin Griffin, abdgriffin@gmail.com

Marissa Moore, marissa.moore@yale.edu

Francis Stewart, francis.stewart@bishopg.ac.uk

David Stowe, stowed@msu.edu


Session Allotment: Tier 1 – Two 90-minute sessions

Next Review: 2021