CFP: American Jews and Music: Assembling New Canons and Contexts

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    Laurence D. Roth

    Special Issue of Studies in American Jewish Literature

    Guest editors: Jonathan Freedman and Laurence Roth

    If the first major waves of popular interest in, philanthropic funding of, and scholarship on contemporary Jewish music and songwriters in the U.S. have finally receded, they’ve left a treasure in their wake. From Orthodox popular music and chazzanut, to jazz masters of the 1930s, to hipster oddities of the “new Jewish music” scene, to gypsy-punk klezmer cabaret bands and the Jewish identified art of Leonard Cohen and John Zorn, today’s audiences have access to a wealth of Jew-ish sounds and entertainments.

    Another legacy is a remarkable archive of critical books, articles, and liner notes. Josh Kun, Ayala Fader, Mark Kligman, Michael Billig, Abigail Wood, Steven Lee Beeber, and Judah Cohen, among others, have helped construct as they have documented the cultural meanings and identities stoked by the production, circulation, and consumption of Jewish music. As Cohen puts it, the varied approaches embodied by such writing helped tie “the production of sound to communal ideas about Jews and Judaism, while acknowledging the vast and complex diversity associated with Jewish expressions, identity, and practice.”*

    Now that there are arguable canons and contexts for this contemporary area of Jewish American cultural studies, the editors of SAJL invite contributions for a special issue that will continue this process of revisiting, expanding, updating, complicating, or interrogating Jewish musical production and reception, and bring them into conversation with other areas of Jewish American scholarship. We are interested in articles on a range of performers, genres, markets, and cultural agents/interpreters, and especially welcome articles that place the object of study within social, ethnic, racial, economic, or generational frames.

    Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

    —Lyrics and Jewish liturgy/poetries/literatures: the secular as sacred, the profane as profound

    —Retrospectives on individual artists and albums

    —Impact of digital media, tools, and platforms

    —Audience reception and fan culture

    —Unexplored or underexplored genres of Jewish musical activity

    —Jewish and/or other contemporaneous musical/racial/ethnic traditions, backgrounds, noises

    —Implications and problematics of philanthropic funding

    —Music education and Jewish Studies

    Prospective contributors should email abstracts of up to 500 words by April 13, 2018. Final versions of accepted papers will be due by September 1, 2018.

    Please send abstracts and inquiries to Jonathan Freedman ( and Laurence Roth (


    * Cohen, Judah M. “Music.” The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Jewish Cultures. Eds. Nadia Valman and Laurence Roth. London and New York: Routledge, 2014, p. 35.

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