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Durham Cathedral

Professor Douglas Davies FBA, Director of The Centre for Death and Life Studies at Durham University, invites your interest in this one-day exploratory symposium on the relationship between Music, Monuments, and Memory.

The Centre for Death and Life Studies, Durham University

Music, Monuments, and Memory

An online symposium on 13th Nov 2021

Call for Papers

Deadline: 22nd Oct 2021

Download this Call for Papers in PDF format: Music, Monuments, Memory - Call for Papers

Some may describe memory as the ultimate creative process; we build and re-build fragments of our existence into narratives of embodied experience. The architecture of memory flows beyond abstraction, too: for centuries humans have used music, art, literature, and a whole host of material cultures to embody grief and mourning whilst also projecting, for posterity, an essence of our life- and death-styles. In the aftermath of conflict, often in the absence of bodies to bury, we create cenotaphs, monuments to the deceased, and music with personal dedications and embedded allusions to the past in an attempt to speak to public and private griefs. These exist as patchworks of memory which, when stitched together, create a vast memoryscape, allowing us to progress and evolve. But what is it that drives us to such creativity and what stories do these artworks tell? How do we view these materials as ritual culture of the present and of the past? Can we reconcile conflicts between agents of memory in political and cultural dissonance? Do our memoryscapes and memories age and change with our own cultural landscape? How do music and monuments help frame emotions of loss, embody memory, and build a potential renewal of life, life values, and hope?

Here at our Centre we invite you join us to explore these and other issues in an open forum of scholars and practitioners. Through a wide range of contexts, cases, methods, and approaches, we aim to foster a mutual flourishing of experience and understanding. Music, Monuments, and Memory is, then, open for presentations that may have specific research findings, or work in progress to share or, indeed, life experiences that illuminate our human complexity and diversity as people who live with death.

Conference Format

This one-day symposium will be conducted online due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Individual presentations of 20 minutes are invited from academic and service-practitioners at any career stage. If, perhaps, you would simply like a 10 minute statement of work in progress, or to pinpoint a single idea or experience, we might also be able to take that on board.


Please submit your abstract (from say 100 to 250 words) to Matthew McCullough at

Proposals should be submitted no later than 22nd October 2021 and the Centre Symposium Committee will notify their decision by 1st November 2021 when the programme will be published on the Centre for Death and Life Studies website.

There will be no fee.

For all enquiries, or to make suggestions and provide feedback, please contact Matthew McCullough who is assisting the Centre Director in this event.