Conference  at Catania University, Department of Political and Social Sciences, November 23-24 2018

“Blues in the 21st Century: Myth, Social Expression and Transculturalism”

(This is a provisional programme; a final version will be posted closer to the event)

Day One

Conference opening; university greetings

Plenary Lecture: Randolph Lewis, University of Austen, Texas. “Trouble in Mind: The Blues According to Lightnin' Hopkins”

Coffee Break

1st Panel 

Parallel activity


2nd panel

Lessons in the Blues: from the Delta to the World. Istituto Musicale Bellini, Catania

Concert: Hot Shanks Blues Band

Social Dinner

Day Two

Patricia R. Schroeder, Ursinus College, Collegeville, PA. “Blues Influences in American Literature: 20th Century Traditions and  21st Century Innovations”

Coffee Break

Vision of film “Beyond the Blues” by John Baily

3rdPanel (parallel sessions)


4th Panel (parallel sessions)

5th Panel

Closing conference

Parallel activity:

The Catania-based blues duo “Blues for Food” will present a session on Blues history, on vocal technique and the musical instruments used (23 November: 12.00-13.30 a.m.). This session is mainly intended for students of Catania University.

istituto Musicale “Vincenzo Bellini”
The Musical Institute “Vincenzo Bellini” will present a Blues lesson, in which the musicians will comment on the pieces and explain their role in the evolution of the music (23 November 16.00 – 17.30).

November 23: Panels

Panel 1

“Forced Transculturation in 21st Century Blues: Myth, Metaphor, and the Logic of Modernity in Mississippi Blues Tourism” - Anthony Mariën (University of Amsterdam)
“Scales of blue: the infection and dissemination, the persistence and transformations of a form and a name.” - Iain Halliday (Catania University).
“Defining Blues as a medium of social expression: a Canadian perspective”. Yves Laberge (Université du Québec à Montréal).

Panel 2

“Million-Dollar Juke Joint: Commodifying Blues Culture”. Daniel Lieberfeld (Duquesne University).
“Different Rivers. Sardinian hill country and the DIY ethos of River of Gennargentu” -Diego Pani (Memorial University of Newfoundland).

November 24: Parallel sessions

Panel 3 (a)

“Dead or Alive? The Blues and the Problem of Authenticity.” Thomas Claviez (University of Bern).
“Why here? Blues-collar identity in Barakaldo, Biscay, Basque Country” - Ángel Chaparro Sainz (University of the Basque Country).
“How blue is our blues? The validation of blues in the 21st century and the role of technology and social media in its progression”. Emiliano Bonanomi and Jack Dandy (University of East London, ICMP).

Panel 3 (b)

“Going back home: the politics of the Blues in Langston Hughes’ ‘The Backlash Blues’” - Valerio Massimo De Angelis (University of Macerata).
“The Weary Blues” by Langston Hughes: the healing power of poetry and music” - Adriano Elia (University of Roma Tre).
“From Weary Blues to the bluesy sound of contemporary America” - Irene Polimante (University of Macerata).

Panel 4 (a)

“Singing Your Mean Old Backlash Blues”: Blues, History, and Racial Inequality Today.” - Chiara Patrizi (University of Roma Tre).
“The Blues as Trope, Form, Existential Figure, and Sound: Literary Criticism, Fiction and Poetry, and Billie Holiday’s ‘Strange Fruit.’” - Ulfried Reichardt (University of Mannheim)
“The Devil’s Music- A Critical Discourse Analysis-Based Study of the Lyrics of Robert Johnson” - Giulia Magazzù  (University “Gabriele D’Annunzio” of Chieti-Pescara).

Panel 4 (b)

“I’m goin’ away to a world unknown : A corpus study of classic blues lyrics”. Jean Charles Khalifa (University of Poitiers).
“The Old Black and The New White. Identities in postmodern lyrics” - Diana Sfetlana Stoica (University of West Timisoara)
“Riffing on memory: a blues study of Tennessee Williams’s ‘Orpheus Descending.” Sara Riccetti (University La Sapienza, Rome).

Panel 5
“The blues aesthetic as intermedial legacy: August Wilson’s Twentieth-Century Cycle cinematic transition into the twenty-first century.” - Valentina Rapetti (University of Roma Tre)
“Hendrix's 'Machine Gun' and the Limitations of Traditional Blues Performance”. Daniel Lieberfeld (Duquesne University).