openwork-1: Listening

    Call for Proposals

Listening as a concept and practice is mobilized across a wide array of scholarly and everyday discourses. Recent theoretical interventions (entangled within and across disciplines like sound art, improvisation studies, Black studies, sound design/architecture, dance studies, jazz studies, organization theory, anthropology, theatre studies, performance studies, Caribbean studies, digital law, disability studies, philosophy, musicology, ethnomusicology, sound studies, experimental music studies and critical theory) have increasingly destabilized approaches to listening that cordon it off as a purely auditory phenomenon, defined by fixed assumptions about what is salient/meaningful/valuable, to whom and why.  

Postcolonial and posthumanist discourses similarly call into question the boundaries between objects of listening and listening-subjects, proposing instead an ongoing, ad-hoc process by which they are continually redefined. By now well-established approaches to rhizomatic information exchange and cybernetics allow us to approach listening as an active form of relation-making, eschewing deterministic approaches to meaning, directionality and causality, where “sender” and “receiver” must conform to predetermined semantic or musical codes. The labor of human and machine listening alike becomes palpable—even audible—revealing how our individualities emerge from vast creole, cyborg assemblages of woven bodies, spaces, histories, futures, technologies and ideas as they improvise constraints and ethical demands.

The way in which we theorize the when, how and who of listening remains a vitally important, often politically charged, field of inquiry. Potentially liberatory retheorizations of listening necessarily center around practices of openness to alternative value systems, which may then transform listener-subjects and by extension, social systems. Alternative relational approaches to listening emerge in which readers are also authors, audiences already performers and vice versa, creating new, often unsettled forms of understanding together across different experiences of space and time.

openwork is looking for contributions (from artists, activists, curators and scholars) that develop critical theories of listening. We are particularly interested in contributions that explore the rich dimensions of listening beyond audio- or anthropocentric frames, delving into listening practices that unsettle and redefine space, time and relation.

We hope to feature work from a wide array of disciplines, and encourage authors/artists working inside and outside universities or other formal institutions, especially those developing work that might not fit in traditional academic journals. To address this we are experimenting with a new form of peer review that is dialogic and conversational. Contributors will be given the option to engage in open dialogue with peer-reviewers, and to co-curate (in collaboration with the openwork editorial committee) selections of these exchanges into the published issue.  Through this process we aim to develop a unique scholarly discourse that is open to transformation—colliding both scholarly processes and the critical conclusions of in-depth study. 

We are an online-only journal and as such encourage using digital resources (such as videos, audio recordings, images, animations and so forth). We are seeking proposals for the following:

  • Full-length scholarly essays (about 5000 – 7000 words)
  • Creative texts (closer to 500 – 2500 words)
    • Cultural, political, theological (etc.) commentaries, manifestos and polemics
    • Artistic reflections
    • Lyric essays
    • Multimedia formats that use text 
    • Surprise us! 
  • Artworks
    • Music: stand alone pieces, albums, DJ sets, music videos etc.
    • Poetry 
    • Short films, photo collections, essays or collages
  • We also highly encourage proposals for video, audio or image materials relating to visual and sound art idioms that do not fall into the above categories. 

openwork hopes to include contrasting, even incommensurate approaches to theorization. This may take any number of forms: research-centered projects where theoretical concerns are intertwined with fieldwork, close reading, archival practices, practice-led research, or artistic research; personal reflections on ways of relating to categories that define/confine/enable; artworks that explicitly quote or refer to the work of other theorists or theorizing artists; poetic, hieroglyphic or diagrammatic approaches to language that disfigure/refigure existing traditions of theorizing; and artworks that themselves develop a theoretical practice.

Submission guidelines for proposals: 

The deadline for proposals is April 22nd 2021

If selected, full-length submissions will be due no later than August 1st 2021.

Written proposals should be no longer than 250-500 words, and address how article or artwork relates to the issue theme. 

If your proposal is best conveyed using audio, video or image materials (for example references to past work or sketches of the proposed work) please include up to three links to these using Dropbox, Soundcloud, Google Drive, your personal website etc. in the body of your proposal. Please specify as necessary which part or aspects of the linked materials the selection committee should focus on using time stamps and/or explanatory notes. Reviewers will review up to 12 minutes. 

Short bibliographies are encouraged.

Proposals from both individual authors/artists or groups will be accepted. We will only consider one proposal per individual or group.

We welcome short bios as well (250 words max) but they are not required.  

Please submit your proposal to the openwork editorial team with “openwork-1 proposal” as your subject line -