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CfP: Reframing the Gaze: Maria Theresia Paradis, Blind Musicians, and Musical Culture in the Decades before Braille

August 1

Reframing the Gaze: Maria Theresia Paradis, Blind Musicians, and Musical Culture in the Decades before Braille 
A Bicentenary Symposium
November 22-24, 2024
Mount Holyoke College (South Hadley, MA)
proposal deadline: August 1, 2024

We invite proposals for presentations on the life, works, and worlds of Maria Theresia Paradis (1759-1824) in celebration of her bicentenary this year. Paradis was a celebrated Viennese prodigy and piano virtuosa whose story of blindness, quack treatments under Franz Mesmer, and fame as a touring musician has been retold in novels, films, and plays. But she was also a well-known composer and piano teacher, and an influential figure in the development of educational systems and adaptive technologies for the blind in Europe. At once multiply marginalized and uniquely privileged among her peers, she offers important perspectives on vulnerable virtuosity (Honisch), histories of disability and music education, cure fantasy (Linton, Clare), the politics of the gaze (Garland-Thomson), and late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century musical culture, performance, and listening practice.

We seek to contextualize Paradis’s legacy with an interdisciplinary symposium that brings together recent work on her career and reception, music education for the blind, and other blind artists and musicians of the period, as well as their impact up to the present day. We encourage contributions from scholars working within and across the disciplines of music history, theory, and education; disability history and critical disability studies; gender and queer studies; celebrity studies; media studies; histories of science, technology, and medicine; etc. We particularly welcome proposals by blind scholars and musicians. Other presentation formats such as lecture-recitals, lightning talks, roundtables, posters, installations, and exhibitions are also welcome. Funding for travel expenses may be available to those with limited or no institutional support.

The symposium will include recitals featuring music by and related to Paradis; a reconstruction of one of her Vienna school concerts; and a hands-on, accessible exhibition of archival materials and reproductions of contemporaneous texts and tools related to blind musicians and music education of the blind. All events and materials will be preserved and shared online, with audio descriptions, as an accessible, open learning resource following the symposium.

Proposals of 250-300 words are due to the symposium co-organizers at paradissymposium@gmail.com by 11:59pm ET on August 1, 2024. Notifications will be issued by August 15. Please email us at paradissymposium@gmail.com with any questions.

Adeline Mueller (Mount Holyoke College) amueller@mtholyoke.edu

Christopher Parton (Princeton University) cparton@princeton.edu

Annette Richards (Cornell University) annette.richards@cornell.edu

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Adeline Mueller (Mount Holyoke College)

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