Both sound studies and secular studies have come into their own as ramified intellectual discourses. The time is ripe for bringing them into dialogue with one another. That they ought to be in dialogue is suggested by Cornel West’s recent assertion that “secular thinkers must become more religiously musical.” “Sound and Secularity” brings together scholars in a variety of disciplines with faculty from the Stony Brook Music, History, and Philosophy departments to engage with questions raised by putting these studies into dialogue. 

Moving away from visual epistemologies implied by terms such as “worldview” and “perspective” we aim to interrogate how secularity sounds and what it means to listen in a secular age—to use Charles Taylor’s expression—and after. We will address questions that are increasingly urgent in a hyperconnected world in which religion, far from being relegated to the past, is as strongly affirmed—and just as often denied—fact of public and private life. How do we listen and respond to others whose systems of belief do not accord with our own? How do sound and secularity function in governance? Must secularism be assumed as the basis for such intersubjective listening? How do religious sounds carry (and how are they received) in a secular public space? How have secular sounds been sacralized, and to what ends? How does public sounding and listening carry into more intimate, private sphere?

“Sound and Secularity” is made possible by support from the Faculty in the Arts, Humanities and lettered Social Sciences (FAHSS) fund, the Humanities Institute at Stony Brook, and the Stony Brook Department of Music.