Call for Proposals

Rationale and Structure

Let us begin with: how am I to listen to you? (Irigaray, 1996: 115)

 Contemporary life is replete with demands on our aural attention, calls to be heard and responded to, or ignored and passed over. Everyday experience is saturated with auditory technologies, structures and metaphors: tuning in, speaking out, shutting up, shouting down, amplifying, signal boosting, and discerning the signal from the noise. From listening for a cue to “hear[ing] a play tonight”, the history of performance is also a history of listening; and the act of listening is inherently performative.

The curators of the Listening stream are keen to listen harder and to consider sound – or the absence of sound – in all its manifestations. The Listening stream will convene in the morning for panel sessions featuring papers, presentations and roundtable discussions. The afternoon and early evening programme of the stream will provide a platform for performances, workshops, audio works, installations and interventions, to be staged indoors (in a variety of performances spaces in the town of Rijeka) or outdoors (in the streets and squares of the city). An Intensive Care section of the day will consider the importance of listening in our own scholarly work – paying attention to the voices of others, caring by listening out for each other.

Call for Proposals

Listening, attunement, resonance, feedback, noise, being heard and being saturated are some of the many terms we use to account for the ways in which we attend to or cover over the ever -increasing hum that envelops us in every aspect of our lives.

Over the past decade, sociologists and political philosophers, among others, have argued that listening is central to the democratic project and needs to be reinstated as such. In other words, rather than thinking about how to “give voice” to fellow citizens – and non-citizens – we need to focus on how to “grant an audience”. We need to ask ourselves: how, when and where do we listen? And to whom? (see Irigaray, 1996, Ratcliffe 2005; Couldry 2010; Lacey 2013; Dobson 2014; Lipari 2014; Stauffer 2015; Bassel 2017). During the same period, theatre and performance scholars have also argued for a turn away from visuality towards aurality, and a reconsideration of sound for and in performance (see Kochar-Lindgren 2006; Home-Cook 2015; Eckersall, Grehan and Scheer, 2017; Kendrick 2017; Voegelin, 2018; Bennett 2019). Yet attention to how the listening we do in theatre and performance might model and enable different modes of listening – politically or otherwise – has been slow to emerge.

This is despite the fact that listening is everywhere in contemporary performance. We see it in performances that employ headphones, whether to immerse, instruct, or isolate audiences aurally; and in performances where performers themselves wear headphones to tune themselves to given sound. Attentive listening is required when performers stand on stage and perform autobiographical stories on behalf of themselves or absent others in countless verbatim and documentary plays. Then there is the recent trend for re-enacting political speeches as well as the longer history of the performance-lecture and the filibuster. Performance and sound art intersect in the increasing number of installations by artists that demand our listening. Elsewhere, artists curate or facilitate “deep listening” experiences and explore forms of listening beyond hearing.

The curators of the Listening stream invite papers, presentations, panels, roundtables, performances, workshops, installations, audio works, manifestoes or other interventions that might speak to the performance of listening, that explore, unsettle, disrupt, reinforce or otherwise engage with the idea and practice of listening or indeed advocate alternatives to listening.

Themes to explore may include:

Earwitness: Listening and Evidence

  • Regimes of aural evidence
  • Oral history, testimony, hearsay
  • Descriptions, lists and diegetic theatres
  • Audio recordings, acoustic evidence
  • Performance, sound art, sound installations
  • Performance’s own sonic traces

Performing listening: listening to performance

  • Screaming, crying and refusing to hear
  • Reversing polarity, feedback and distortion
  • Listening for truth, post-truth and manipulation
  • Blocking one’s ears, shouting and mis-hearing
  • Dramaturgies of listening: sound, silence, hum
  • Deafness, listening beyond hearing

Siri and Alexa: Listening and Media

  • Overhearing, surveillance, algorithmic listening
  • Secrets and public secrets
  • Headphones, microphones, and binaural performance
  • Foley artists, podcasters, field recordings
  • Gender and listening

Audit: Listening and the Neoliberal State

  • Citizens, non-citizens, First Nations citizens
  • Auditory culture, audit culture, “accounting for oneself”
  • Assembly, occupation, protest, riot; making noise

We also welcome contributions that explore the role of caring through listening in academic practice.

Presentation Guidelines

  • Papers or presentations: 20 minutes
  • Panels or roundtables: 90 minutes
  • Performances, workshops, installations, and other performative formats: max. 120 minutes [or (if durational) can be encountered over a max 120-minute period]

Contributions to the Intensive Care section: max. 60 minutes

How to Apply

To submit a proposal for the stream Listening, please fill out the online application form, which can be found here.

The deadline to submit a proposal is December 31, 2019All other conference dates and deadlines can be found on the conference timeline.

Please direct any questions regarding your application to psi2020listening@gmail.com