So here we are: in its ninth year of existence, isaScience is going “hybrid”!

With the mdw’s international and interdisciplinary summer conference having been postponed in early 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the isaScience team is now preparing for its first-ever hybrid edition, in which it will pick up right where it left off. This new, hybrid isaScience is scheduled for its usual slot just prior to isa – the International Summer Academy of the mdw and will thus take place from 11 to 15 August 2021 in its accustomed setting of Reichenau an der Rax.

One major advantage of the hybrid format is that researchers will be able to participate with no need for a long flight beforehand. This also helps do justice to another great crisis of our times, the climate crisis, as well as other ecological aspects. Furthermore, researchers who live and work in precarious circumstances will find it an easier and more affordable option to take part via Zoom. And finally, participation in the 2021 edition is free of charge and open to all interested parties who register via the isaScience website. To this end, isaScience as well as isa at large have moved to a new site that will provide a platform for substantive academic exchange across geographic barriers as well as a virtual conference lounge.

The theme of isaScience in 2021, “Heroes, Canons, Cults. Critical Inquiries”, draws an arc from 2020’s Beethoven memorial year and isa’s 30th anniversary to the plurality and diversity of all those musics and performance practices that have been and still are excluded from the canon of Western art music and ”high culture”. And in this regard, the isaScience theme also relates to this year’s isa as such: isa21, with its theme of “unlimited”, will place special emphasis on the transcendence of existing or supposed boundaries. “In a logically consistent continuation of isa20’s originally planned thematic conception, works that do not belong to the core of our concert life’s traditional canon will be playing a central role. Music by people who fell victim to National Socialist persecution, music by women, and music by members of ethnic minorities will stand at the centre,” says Johannes Meissl, isa’s artistic director and the mdw’s Vice Rector for International Affairs and Art.

The integration of last year’s isaDigital format is a good fit for isaScience 2021 insofar as critical research on and discussion of heroes, canons, and cults would be absolutely unthinkable without close consideration of exclusionary mechanisms and/or processes of inclusion and exclusion in music and other performing arts. For across all musical styles and in various cultural contexts, heroes, canons, and cults contribute to the creation of normative, exclusionary, and even violent overall conditions while dictating what is to be considered worthwhile and appropriate for being heard and seen. Heroisation, canonisation, and cultification also determine what remains unheard and unseen or is disparaged as unworthy or inferior.

With special emphasis on postcolonial, feminist, queer, and class-related analyses, the still-current questions from last year—plus our own situation as researchers in the midst of a pandemic that is still ongoing—are to be critically dealt with and discussed. isaScience 2021’s academic leading team is looking forward to animated interdisciplinary exchange and critical contributions to our discussions! The programme of isaScience 2021 can be found at and

Heroes, Canons, Cults. Critical Inquiries
11–15 August 2021
Keynotes (t.b.c.) by Mina Yang (USA), Esteban Buch (France), Milena Dragićević Šešić (Serbia), Denise Gill (USA)
Leading team: Dagmar Abfalter, Marko Kölbl, Rosa Reitsamer, Fritz Trümpi
Coordination: Karoline Feyertag

Authors: Dagmar Abfalter, Karoline Feyertag, Marko Kölbl, Rosa Reitsamer, Fritz Trümpi

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