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Watching Jazz: Analysing Jazz Performance on Audiovisual Resources

Posted: February 23rd, 2010 | Filed under: Calls for Papers | No Comments »

Conference, 18/19 February 2011, University of Glasgow
Keynote address: John Altman

Jazz historiography has traditionally revolved around sound recordings, with still images, written documents and oral histories employed as complementary sources.

Although this approach has generally been regarded as successful, there is growing awareness among scholars of the problematic nature of such heavy reliance on sound recordings. In particular, it has obscured aspects of the music and the cultural practices surrounding it that are not apparent from sound recordings, and has led to the marginalisation of musicians who did not produce their best work in the recording studio.

The AHRC-funded project ‘The Use of Audiovisual Resources in Jazz Historiography and Scholarship Performance, Embodiment and Mediatised Representations’, which is part of the ‘Beyond Text’ scheme, proposes to address this situation through research based on the John Altman collection of audiovisual recordings of jazz performances. Consisting of more than 10,000 VHS tapes and DVDs, mostly of televised broadcasts, this collection spans the history of jazz, from the invention of sound film to the present, in all its geographic and cultural variety.

Part of the project is a two-day conference, and we hereby invite contributions on all aspects of jazz performance on audiovisual resources. Among the topics to be addressed are:

  • Viewing the Performing Body
  • Group Interaction and Communication
  • Audiences, Venues and Performance Conventions in Comparative Perspective
  • Broadcasting Conventions and Mediatised Representations

It is planned for a selection of the papers to be published in a collected volume. Participants are encouraged to access materials in the John Altman Collection to support their research (for details, contact Björn Heile, using the email below).


We invite proposals for individual papers, panels and lecture-recitals. Individual papers should be no more than 30 minutes long, followed by 15 minutes for questions and answers. Proposals for individual papers should be no more than 300 words, and proposals for panels no more than 1000 words. Abstracts should be emailed as an anonymous attachment (doc, rtf or pdf format) to [email protected] by 1 September 2010. The body of the email should contain the proposal’s title(s) and clarify the full name and institutional affiliation (or place of residence) of all proposed participants, as well as the e-mail address that should be used for correspondence. We intend to respond to all potential participants by October 2010.

The programme committee consists of the project’s investigators: Jenny Doctor (University of York), Peter Elsdon (University of Hull) and Björn Heile (conference organiser, University of Sussex/University of Glasgow).

Conference sponsors include: the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the journal Jazz Research.

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