Dr. Abigail Fine presents at Stony Brook University

In Faculty News, Musicology by Travis Shaver

Recently, UHM Musicology faculty Dr. Abigail Fine gave a presentation for the Sound and Secularity symposium at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York. Here is what she has to say about the symposium and her presentation:

“On April 12th, I presented at a symposium entitled Sound and Secularity at Stony Brook University. The interdisciplinary event brought together scholars from musicology, ethnomusicology, philosophy, history, anthropology, and religious studies to explore how recent discourses on secularity—and all its complex discontents—have left echoes in music and sound. My paper took a close look at an extraordinary individual, the early twentieth-century sociologist Edgar Zilsel, whose 1918 treatise called “The Genius-Religion” debunked the veneration of artists in ways that seem prophetic of fascism, and that bears subtle traces of Jewish anxieties between the lines. In a period when Jewish artists and intellectuals sought to assimilate to German and Austrian identities through high culture, their approach to art-religion—that is, sacred practices that emerge in the secular sphere—ranged from fascination to repulsion. By studying Zilsel’s warning of the dangers of genius-religion, we can better understand how Jewish artists assimilated not to a secular neutral space, but to art-religion. With a rising tide of antisemitism, that assimilation became impossible, and Jews found themselves torn as to whether they should safeguard or topple the artist-cults that were their highest aspiration.”