CFP: Rhythm as Pattern and Variation: Political, Social and Artistic Inflections

Goldsmiths College, 23rd April 2016

Confirmed Keynote Speaker: Pascal Michon

A current interest in rhythm prompted the publication of the special issue of the journal Body&Society ‘Rhythm Returns’ (2014), of interviews on the Theory, Culture&Society website (Crespi, 2015; Valiaho, 2015), of works exploring the relation of rhythm to war (Goodman, 2012) and the digital (Ikoniadou, 2014) and the ideation of the website Rhuthmos (, an international and interdisciplinary platform with a focus on rhythm.

This brings rhythm again to the fore, highlighting the relevance and urgency of a reconsideration of it in relation to our methodologies and practices in the humanities and social sciences. Rhythm affords to speak of the dynamic between movement and rest, and in the tradition of critical and cultural studies it was famously explored by Gaston Bachelard and Henri Lefebvre in relation to Henri Bergson’s notion of duration, and notably by Georg Simmel in his discussion of the origins of modernity.

Rhythm lays at the hearth of our understanding of the shifting dynamics that rule neoliberal society in terms of life patterns, economic growth and decay, and our systems of mediation and communication. Our lives are shaped and partake of rhythmical fluctuations: the regular happening of events and its sudden variations, the negotiations between different degrees of speeds, as in the way we produce and consume food, think and practice art and the balance and alternation between our moods, affects, and desires. Rhythm is nevertheless difficult to grasp, point down, describe. It is more something we feel, sense and intuit

In this context, French historian and sociologist Pascal Michon proposes to ‘oppose the continuity and the dynamic of rhythm to the discontinuity and un-historicity of semiotics and metrics’. He further argues that

‘The rhythm concept is useful when observers are confronted with entities that are defined by the ways they are flowing. If rhythm is not conceived only as a numbered order of the movement made by an object, but as the organisation of the processes that produce what appears to us as an object, it becomes very effective. Especially in disciplines which try to get rid of the old models of structure and system and to take into account the radical historicity of their objects, without falling into the symmetric traps of extreme conceptions, which dissolve individual and subjectivity in difference and passing of time, and of more balanced conceptions, which maintain them but in still too formal a way’. (Michon, 2011. Available at

The work of Pascal Michon, overlooked in English-speaking academia, has focussed on rhythm in relation to history, philosophy and sociology. Michon is the editor of the Rhuthmos website, and, among other publications, he is the author of Rythmes, Pouvoir, Mondialisation (Rhythm, Power, Globalisation, 2005).

In an effort to think of the different ways in which rhythm can be said to be an originator and organisational principle of reality, and in an attempt to take seriously rhythm’s potential in terms of methodology for the humanities and social sciences, this conference invites reflections on, but not limited to, the following themes:

– rhythm and culture
– rhythm and politics
– rhythm and the event
– rhythm and gender
– rhythm and resistance
– rhythm and power
– rhythm and economics
– rhythm and food
– rhythm and the city
– rhythm and mediation
– rhythm and subjectivation
– rhythm and cognition
– rhythm, algorhythm and code
– rhythm and the body
– rhythm and the production of art
– rhythm and dance
– rhythm and painting
– rhythm and music
– rhythm and film
– rhythm and war
– rhythm as difference and repetition
– rhythm as measure and flow

Proposals for 30 minutes presentations and workshops should be sent to rhythmconference2016 by the 12th February 2016. Accepted speakers will be notified by the 4th March 2016.

Please send your proposal as an attachment including a title, an abstract (of no more than 300 words) and a brief biography. If relevant, proposals can include links to give an indication of your artistic practice.

For further information, please contact Paola Crespi: p.crespi .

Dr Paola Crespi
Associate Lecturer
Department of Media and Communications
Goldsmiths College, University of London