Sensory studies arises at the conjuncture (and within) the fields of anthropology • sociology • history • archeology • geography • communications • religion • philosophy • literature • art history • museology • film • mixed media • performance • phenomenology • disability • aesthetics • architecture • urbanism • design

Sensory Studies can also be divided along sensory lines into, for example, visual culture, auditory culture (or sound studies), smell culture, taste culture and the culture of touch, not to mention the sixth sense (however it might be defined)

Perceptual Tensions, Sensory Resonance

Perceptual Tensions, Sensory Resonance
An International Conference on
Contemporary Opera and New Music Theatre

University of Toronto
June 8-9, 2012

When it premiered in 1976, Einstein on the Beach by Robert Wilson and
Phillip Glass stretched audience members? experience of time by
saturating sensory perception over the opera?s five-hour duration.
2012 will see the revival of Einstein on the Beach in a new production
slated for international tour. In conjunction with performances of
this production in Toronto, the University of Toronto will host a
two-day interdisciplinary conference on Opera and forms of New Music
Theatre, that takes perception and sensory experience as its starting
points. Addressing collaborative creation and the changing reception
of opera and new music theatre in the last fifty years, this
conference seeks to draw upon varied fields including perception,
sensory studies, affect theory, audience studies, phenomenological and
aesthetic theories, narratology, and the nature of contemporary
operatic staging and theatricality.

Topics of interest may include, but are not limited to, the following:

Multi- and Inter-sensory Perception
* How do our senses work together and in opposition when experiencing
contemporary opera and new music theatre? How might we analyze the
haptic and kinesthetic modalities of opera and new music theatre?

Time, Contemporaneity, and Temporality
* How do historical time, perceptual time, and aspects of
compositional-temporal organization intersect in contemporary opera
and new music theatre?

Repetition and Excess
* How do minimalist aesthetics work with and against the grain of
opera and new music theatre? How might repetition and excess in
contemporary opera and new music theatre structure audience members’
affective responses?

Sensory Scholarship
* How do we talk about our sensory experiences of opera and new music
theatre? How might we write about them, or respond to them in
alternate, performative ways?

Social Efficacy, Community Engagements
* How are opera and new music theatre creators working in and with
communities to collaboratively develop new work? What challenges are
involved in such partnerships?

Setting the Stage, Situating the Audience
* How do the sites of performance, and site-specific practices,
influence the creation and perception of opera and new music theatre?
How have visual media technologies and unconventional performance
spaces been used to engage audiences and invigorate productions?

Please submit an abstract of approximately 300 words no later than
September 15, 2011 to: Perceptual.tensions(at)

Organizing Committee:
T. Nikki Cesare (Drama, University of Toronto), Caryl Clark (Music,
University of Toronto), Linda Hutcheon (Comparative Literature,
University of Toronto), Michael Hutcheon (Medicine, University of
Toronto), Sherry Lee (Music, University of Toronto), Dylan Robinson
(Royal Holloway, University of London)