Elvis lives in Amsterdam. Manifestations of the imaginary musician
University of Amsterdam, 29 November - 1 December 2018 Conference convenors: Rutger Helmers and Oliver Seibt.
From Marvel’s Kiss comics of the late 1970s to Cate Blanchett and Heath Ledger acting out different facets of Bob Dylan’s public persona in Todd Hayne’s experimental film I’m not there; from continuous assertions that the guy on stage isn’t the real Paul McCartney to YouTube videos showing Nigerian Michael Jackson impersonators; from Hans Sachs, the sixteenth-century Meistersinger, still performing regularly in Wagner’s opera, to a virtual band like Gorillaz; from Adrian Leverkühn’s pact with the devil in Thomas Mann’s Doktor Faustus to the unsolved mystery of Chet Baker’s defenestration from Amsterdam’s Prins Hendrik Hotel.
During this conference, hosted by the University of Amsterdam’s School of Cultural Analysis (ASCA), we aim to have an interdisciplinary discussion about the various ways in which our understanding of musicians taps into the imaginary, and what case studies about musicians can teach us about the imaginary constitution of our everyday experiences.
Thereby, our interest will not be to debunk myths, but to understand what role imaginary representations of musicians play in our personal lives, in society and the arts in general. In discussing collective as well as individual imaginations of musicians, we are especially interested in the concurrence of the dimensions of “the real”, “the fictive”, and “the imaginary” in music cultures. Theories of the imaginary as, for example, those by Jean-Paul Sartre, Jacques Lacan, Wolfgang Iser, or Cornelius Castoriadis could thereby serve as theoretical background that allows for an interdisciplinary communication about the topic.
The conference will include three confirmed keynotes by Nicholas Cook (Musicology, University of Cambridge), Lydia Goehr (Philosophy, Columbia University), and Nick Prior (Sociology, University of Edinburgh), and feature the affiliated masterclass “Marsyas to Madonna. The construction of the musician as figure and type” with Lydia Goehr and Marlies de Munck (University of Antwerp) as well as the ongoing exhibition “Elvis has just left the panel” on musicians as characters in comic books and graphic novels.
For registration, please send an e-mail indicating the days you plan to attend to firstname.lastname@example.org until November 12th.