About isaScience

  • Call for Papers

    Heroes, Canons, Cults.
    Critical Inquiries

    isaScience 2021 focuses on critical perspectives on heroic imaginations, cultic actions and the formation and maintenance of canons. Across musical styles and cultural spheres, heroes, cults and canons contribute to the creation of normative and exclusionary and even violent settings, dictating what ears and eyes should deem adequate and valuable. Likewise, heroisation, cultification and canonisation define what remains unheard, unseen and regarded as unworthy.

    Historically, the making of “heroes” and the processes of canon formation have been closely associated with Western art music and the celebration of certain composers as “great artists” as well as the consecration of their works as “masterpieces”. These practices employed for the production of artistic values are informed by the ideology of the autonomous artist and the increasing formation of a museal culture that developed throughout the 19th century. Moreover, these practices supported the emergence of a more strictly defined boundary between “highbrow” and “lowbrow” cultural forms and became the dominant standard by which popular and traditional music forms were evaluated. These developments are closely linked to Eurocentric, imperialist and elitist institutions such as opera houses, concert halls and music conservatoires that allowed for classed, gendered and racialized modes of producing, performing, consuming and appropriating music.

    Later on, despite discursive struggles over cultural authority, the music industry ̶ including music publishers, record company personnel, journalists and other cultural intermediaries ̶ as well as the development of recording technology, the internet and social media have played a significant role in the definition of stardom, the making of heroes and the processes of canon formation within diverse cultural worlds, including jazz, rock/pop, hip hop, traditional music, classical music and folk music, among others. The introduction of electrical recording, for example, allowed for the availability of vernacular musics in locally specific languages and dialects, giving rise to colonial ethnographies of indigenous music. Simultaneously, this technological innovation offered colonised populations the opportunity to hear themselves, to construct musical canons and to gain a sense of identity which was necessary for anti-colonial action. More recently, individuals and groups have made use of the technologies afforded by the internet in order to document, preserve and disseminate alternative music histories and to challenge the mainstream musical canon that has traditionally marginalised artists of colour, non-western performers, female musicians and queer figures.

    However, mainstream musical canons provide the raw material for the commercial music industry to make a profit, while the tourism industry builds on nostalgia and the commemoration of musical heroes, traditions and canons to actively brand and market cities or even nation states like Austria. Commemoration can result in fandom culture, possibly culminating in religious and spiritual ascriptions and cults around music and musical heroes, with some fans strongly engaging in brand communities. Moreover, commemorative cultural policies manifest themselves in monuments, archives and festivals, maintaining and reinforcing canons at the expense of innovation and diversity. In that respect, canonical usages of traditional music as normative representations of regional and national culture—as evident for example in UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage lists—obscure various strata of other forms of cultural expressions, particularly those of marginalized groups.

    Academic and artistic research on musical heroes and canons have frequently further reinforced dominant structures and perceptions of music, for example the image of the white male composer or the representation of certain musics as part of the world’s cultural canon, often deeply rooted in colonial imaginations and corresponding ethnographies. Feminist critiques of “founding fathers”, their followers and successors as well as investigations of how and why women get lost in canonization processes have become important discourses in the current academic debate. The heroisation of (predominantly white, cis-gendered, male) academics corresponds to the canonization processes they have induced. In ethnographic disciplines, fieldwork’s mystic aura as a heroic quest, as brave endurance promising the ultimate accolade, has added to the deification of the ethnographer as a saviour of culture.

    In the course of the global pandemic, musicians became heroes in times of despair, perceived as both crucial voices and forgotten relicts of a pre-Covid world. As the online world gains unprecedented significance as a social space, canons and cults shift in scope and content. How does the pandemic challenge, how foster heroes and canons in music?

    The conference seeks to address the following thematic streams from critical perspectives with a particular focus on post-colonial, feminist, queer or class-sensitive analysis. We welcome proposals from any discipline, using any methodology and addressing any kind of music and dance, including the spheres of film and theatre. Topic proposals include but are not limited to:

    • The historical making of heroes and the processes of canon construction in diverse musical and performing arts worlds and their actors (e.g. the media, critics, nationalists, audiences)
    • Cultural imperialism and Western art music
    • Political functions of musical canons past and present (e.g. nationalism, racism)
    • The significance of canons, heroes and cults in the construction of music histories and heritage formations
    • De/re/construction of disciplinary canons relating to music and performing arts
    • Critical reflections on academic and activist efforts to inscribe female composers in the canon of Western art music
    • Racial oppression and the hegemonies of canons
    • Economic aspects of canonisation
    • The role of audiences, music journalists and critics in creating, fostering and challenging heroes, canons and cults
    • The role of sexual abuse in the construction of musical canons and stardom
    • Digital archives as tools for the pluralisation of stardom constructions and the construction of alternative music histories
    • Places of remembrance, intangible cultural heritage and musical canons
    • Museums and exhibitions as tools for the making of local heroes and the construction of musical canons
    • Music and dance in religious cults
    • Impacts of COVID-19 on processes of musical canonisation and marginalisation

    Abstracts should include theoretical framework, methodology and a “key word” line.

    Please submit your abstract in English (max. 300 words, including literature) for papers and panels as well as workshops and innovative formats, a short biography (max. 100 words) and your institutional affiliation, until 28 February 2021 to isascience@mdw.ac.at.

    Decisions on the acceptance of the proposals will be announced by mid-April 2021.

    No registration fee!

    Complimentary funding is available for students and scholars in academic precarity upon acceptance of the proposal and application (if they are able to travel to Reichenau/Rax according to Covid-19 global travel restrictions in effect in August 2021).

  • Registration

    Participation in all events of isaScience is open to the public.

    For organisational reasons, registration is obligatory for ALL participants!

    Registration is possible by May 2021.

    We kindly ask to register by no later than 31 July 2021 (for a participation on-site). Registration for online-participation is open until 10 August 2021.

    No registration fee!

    The mdw – University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna covers lunch and coffee breaks. A shuttle service from the train station at Reichenau/Rax to the conference venue is available free of charge.

  • Location

    How to get to isaScience 2021?

    by train from Vienna Central Station (Hauptbahnhof Wien): Trains serve approx. every 30 minutes the destination of Payerbach-Reichenau, travelling time is approx. 1 hour; find your train and ticket here: ÖBB Austrian Railways

    by car: Highway S6 (arriving from Vienna on the highway A2 or from Graz on the highway A9), take the exit n°17 – Gloggnitz, direction Gloggnitz, then on B27 to Reichenau/Rax

    by airplane arriving at Vienna International Airport: Trains run from VIE airport to Vienna Central Station or Wiener Neustadt where you have to change the train for Payerbach-Reichenau

    by shuttle bus either from VIE airport or from the trainstation in Payerbach-Reichenau


    The train station for reaching Reichenau/Rax is in Payerbach, both villages ar next to each other and our shuttle busses will connect Payerbach and Reichenau!

  • Accomodation

    Double and single bedrooms are reserved for isaScience participants in these following two hotels:

    Hotel Marienhof (conference venue)
    Hauptstraße 71-73
    2651 Reichenau an der Rax
    T +43 2666 52995
    Fax +43 2666 52995 580


    Hinterleiten 12
    2651 Reichenau / Rax
    T +43-2666-52291


    Please download the hotel list for further suggestions here: List of recommended hotels
    Don’t hestitate to contact us for any further information!

  • Complimentary Funding

    Complimentary funding is available for students and scholars in academic precarity upon acceptance of the proposal and application (if they are able to travel to Reichenau/Rax according to Covid-19 global travel restrictions in effect in August 2021).

    Please email your completed application form (only for requests for the complimentary funding and/or full scholarship) to isascience@mdw.ac.at

    Download of the funding application form for isaScience 2021 coming soon!

  • Organisers & Contact

    Organisers of isaScience:

    ©Stephan Polzer

    Dagmar Abfalter

    Marko Kölbl

    Rosa Reitsamer

    Fritz Trümpi



    Karoline Feyertag




  • Data Protection Declaration

    Online Registration for isaScience

    Interdisciplinary Conference of mdw – University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna*

    The University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna (mdw) accords great importance to the protection of your personal data. For this reason, and in keeping with applicable data protection regulations, we would like to inform you about the collection, processing, and use of your data as part of your online registration for isaScience – Interdisciplinary Conference of the mdw.

    Before providing us with your data, please carefully read through the following information and rules.

    Data Collection

    The mdw is responsible for the data processing work at issue in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). As part of your online registration for this conference, we require a few items of information pertaining to your person and therefore collect and process the following data:

    Obligatory fields: salutation, first and last name, E-mail address, street address, ZIP code and city, e-mail address, country

    Optional fields: date of birth, phone number, academic affiliation, free shuttle transfer

    Additionally, your web browser automatically sends us technical data when you visit our website; this data includes indication of the browser used, information on your operating system, your IP address, the time and date of your visit, and—if applicable—a referrer URL. This data is collected exclusively for statistical purposes and for the continual adaptation of our online presence based on user needs; it will not be combined with the data from your online registration.

    The data you send to us may be used to compile statistics. This, however, takes place in anonymised form and strictly for internal purposes.

    Purpose and Legal Basis for Data Processing; Deletion of Data

    The personal information you provide will be treated confidentially and used to facilitate the smooth processing of your registration for the isaScience – Interdisciplinary Conference of the mdw as well as for the administration and conduct of the isaScience conference. In doing so, we comply with applicable legal regulations. The legal basis upon which we process such data is constituted by our fulfilment of the contract concluded with the affected individual as well as legal requirements to which the mdw is subject and—where necessary—our obligation to document the consent of the affected person regarding any optional additional information provided.

    If you are legally or contractually obligated to provide your personal data for such data processing, or if this is necessary for the conclusion of a contract, your failure to provide the associated data can cause the mdw to be unable to fulfil its obligations to you.

    The storage and deletion of the data thus sent takes place in conformance with legal regulations; in particular, there are regulations in force that may preclude deletion of your data or require continued storage for the purpose of providing evidence. Your data will, however, be deleted after seven years at the latest.

    Data Security

    In order to ensure the security of your data, we protect it using physical, administrative, and electronic processes. Data transfers are therefore encrypted. Furthermore, your data can only be accessed by those individuals who need it in order to fulfil their work responsibilities.


    We use cookies in order to make the mdw website as user-friendly as possible. Cookies already on your computer can be deleted at any time, and the user guide of your browser contains instructions on how to do so.

    For more information please visit: https://www.mdw.ac.at/datenschutz/datenschutzinformation-der-mdw/

    Revocation and Rights of Affected Parties

    If and to the extent to which you have granted the mdw permission to process your personal data and no other legal grounds specified in the GDPR apply, you may at any time revoke these permissions with future effect and without specifying reasons by giving written notice to the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, isaScience – Interdisciplinary Conference of the mdw, Anton-von-Webern-Platz 1, 1030 Vienna or by e-mail at isascience@mdw.ac.at.

    Furthermore, as a party affected by this data processing, you have the right to demand from the mdw information on, correction of, deletion of, limitation of, and the transferability of such data. In order to exercise these rights or to address other matters relating to data protection regulations, please contact our data protection officer (datenschutz[at]mdw.ac.at).

    Should your data have been processed in a way that you deem to be impermissible, you have the option of submitting a complaint to the Austrian Data Protection Authority: Österreichische Datenschutzbehörde, Barichgasse 40-42, 1030 Wien, Telefon: +43 1 52 152-0, dsb@dsb.gv.at.

    Acknowledgement and Acceptance

    By checking the box, you declare that you have read and understood the information contained in this Data Protection Declaration concerning the collection, processing, and use of your personal data. Only once you have confirmed your awareness thereof by checking the box does the transfer of your data take place.

    By checking the box, you grant your permission to the mdw to use any optional additional information provided by you for the above mentioned purposes.

    Data Protection Officer

    Should you have any data protection-related queries, please address them to our data protection officer (datenschutz[at]mdw.ac.at).

    * Datenschutzinformationen auf Deutsch finden Sie auf der Datenschutz-Website der mdw unter https://www.mdw.ac.at/datenschutz/datenschutzinformation-der-mdw/ (siehe insbesondere den Punkt Kursanmeldungen “Institute”).