Call for papers: Italian Sonorities and Acoustic Communities: Listening to the Soundscapes of Italianità

Jun 15, 2016 618

April 27-29, 2017. JOHN D. CALANDRA ITALIAN AMERICAN INSTITUTE. Queens College, City University of New York. 25 West 43rd Street, 17th floor (between 5th and 6th Avenues), Manhattan. In his 1983 book Acoustic Communication, Barry Truax defined acoustic communities as "any soundscape in which acoustic information plays a pervasive role in the lives of the inhabitants. . . . The community is linked and defined by its sounds. To an outsider they may appear exotic or go unnoticed, but to the inhabitants they convey useful information about individual and community life."

Where do we find and how can we hear the Italian acoustic communities that have existed in the historical past and that exist today? Beginning with a transnational understanding of italianità, or Italianness, that encompasses the modern nation-state of Italy, including its diaspora and former colonies, such soundscapes can be composed of the cocoliche pidgin of Argentina, Mussolini's rabble-rousing broadcasts from the balcony of Piazza Venezia, Frank Sinatra's bel canto vocal styling, and the clanging of sheep bells during the transhumance.

Sounds move, cross borders, and link bodies that might otherwise not be linked, that might otherwise be divided from each other. But sounds also stay put, engendering familiarity and intimacy, creating spaces of shared identity. This interdisciplinary conference--the tenth annual conference of the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute--focuses on Italian sonorities broadly defined in order to discover hitherto unexplored perspectives and expressions regarding such movements and identities.


- Mediated dissemination (recordings, radio, film, TV, Internet), especially among immigrant communities
- Center-periphery relationship between acoustic communities in Italy, the diaspora, and colonies
- Spoken language
- The spoken word in translation, e.g., government interpreters, translation of TV shows
- Oral literature, recitation, and spoken word poetry
- Oral history and its problematics
- Sound, style, and difference, e.g., accent
- Gendered voicings
- The sounds of stereotypes and racism
- Aural emotions, e.g., love, fear, humor
- Sacred sounds, e.g., prayer, hymns, incantations, liturgical music
- Musical italianità as expressed or contested by genres, composers, and performers, e.g., opera, Neapolitan song, hybrid encounters like tango and rap
- Sounds of nature
- Acoustic design of landscapes and architecture
- Archiving sound

The official language of the conference is English. All presentations are to last no longer than twenty minutes, including audio and visual illustrations. Thursday evening is dedicated to welcoming comments and reception; sessions and panels will take place all day Friday and Saturday.

NOTA BENE: There are no available funds for travel, accommodations, or meals.


Abstracts for scholarly papers (up to 500 words, plus a note on technical requirements) and a brief, narrative biography should be emailed as attached documents by September 16, 2016, to, where other inquires may also be addressed. We encourage the submission of organized panels (of no more than three presenters). Submission for a panel must be made by a single individual on behalf of the group and must include all the paper titles, abstract narratives, and individual biographies and emails.


The John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, Queens College, is a university-wide research institute of the City University of New York, dedicated to the history and culture of Italians in the United States.

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