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CALL FOR PAPERS-The Canzone Napoletana

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CALL FOR PAPERS-The Canzone Napoletana - 4/1/2008 11:42:58 AM   


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Neapolitan Postcards
The Canzone Napoletana as Transnational Subject
March 20-21, 2009
The John D. Calandra Italian American Institute (Queens College, CUNY, USA) and the International Centre for Music Studies (Newcastle University, UK), in collaboration with the Archivio Sonoro della Canzone Napoletana (RAI, Naples, Italy), announce a two-day conference dedicated to the Neapolitan song. The conference will be held in Manhattan on March 20-21, 2009. The organizers see this conference as a unique opportunity to address the relatively unknown transnational aspects of the Neapolitan song.
The canzone napoletana has been one of the first international popular musics of the modern era, traveling beyond the city of Naples and the borders of Italy. Its success was due, to a large degree, to Italian immigrants in the New World who composed, performed, recorded, sold, and consumed the music in the forms of sheet music, piano rolls, 78 rpm
recordings, and performances. Classic songs like “Core ngrato” (1911), “Senza Mamma” (1925) and “A cartulina ‘e Napule” (“Neapolitan Postcard,” 1927) were composed and introduced in New York City; the Piedigrotta Neapolitan Song Festival was held also in Harlem during the 1920s. The histories of composers and singers like Francesco Pennino (1880-1952) and Gilda Mignonette (1890-1953) have been all but lost.
During this era of mass immigration, the larger American public was also consuming the Neapolitan song at the same time Italian immigrants were victimized as racialized others.  In addition, non-Italian immigrant performers added Neapolitan songs to their repertoires.  In Argentina, artists adapted Neapolitan melodies to the tangos rhythms, as did Carlos Gardel with his 1931 hit song “Como se canta en Nápoles.” Over the course of the twentieth century, singers and musicians such as Charles Aznavour, Count Basie, Enrico Caruso, Mario Merola, Elvis Presley, Caetano Veloso, Frank Zappa, and others would record and further disseminate the Neapolitan song internationally.
Suggested paper topics include, but are not limited to:
* critical biographies of composers, lyricists, and performers like
   Francesco Pennino, Gilda Mignonette, Jimmy Rosselli (to name but three);
* the Neapolitan song as a source of “ethnic identity,” outside of Italy;
* the role of aesthetics, taste, and nostalgia;
* gendered readings of the Neapolitan song;
* cultural and economic histories of the recording industry, publishing
   houses, and neighborhood stores;
* the transnational relationships vis-à-vis the Neapolitan song between
   Naples, New York, Buenos Aires, and other points in the Italian diaspora;
* old and new “contamination” and “hybridization” of the genre;
* the Neapolitan song in literature and film;
* issues concerning documentation and archiving; and
* new approaches to the Neapolitan song in Italy.
The symposium organizers will entertain suggestions of panel discussions with contemporary performers, film screenings, and performances.
Deadline for submissions: May 1, 2008.
The official language of the conference will be English.
Papers should last no longer than twenty minutes, including audio and visual illustrations.
Abstracts (up to 250 words, plus a note on audio-visual requirements, and a brief curriculum vitae) should be sent, by email as Rich Text Format (.rtf) files, by May 1, 2008, to both Goffredo Plastino ( and Joseph Sciorra
(, to whom other enquiries may also be addressed.  Abstracts should clearly display the knowledge of previous research and should indicate theoretical perspectives. Abstracts will be evaluated anonymously through peer review and authors may expect to be advised of their acceptance or otherwise by August 1, 2008.
The conference will result in a publication of refereed essays from papers delivered.
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