MPSG 2017 Themed Session: Rethinking Collaborative Authorship through Music

Convener: Nina Penner (Duke University)

The nature of authorship in the collaborative arts has been subject to lively debate in philosophical aesthetics (see bibliography below), yet these debates have focused almost exclusively on cinema with scant attention to music. Music scholars, on the other hand, often need to make decisions about the authorship of particular musical works, yet there has been little theoretical discussion of how such determinations ought to be made.

Through a conversation between philosophers and music scholars, this panel seeks to evaluate the applicability of current philosophical theories of authorship to music, propose revisions where necessary, and explore new models. We invite papers theorizing the nature of authorship in any collaborative art form involving music, including but not limited to song, opera, musical theatre, dance, cinema, and television. Of particular interest are considerations of musical traditions that have been historically underrepresented in the philosophy of music, especially jazz, popular music, and non-Western musics.

Topics of interest might include (but are not limited to):

  • critiques of current understandings of authorship, both of musical works for performance and performances thereof
  • discussions of changing historical understandings of authorship in particular musical arts
  • explorations of the consequences of determinations of authorship for the histories we tell
  • responses to the debate between Livingston and Gaut (see below) addressing particular musical arts


Proposals of no longer than 300 words should be submitted to Nina Penner with the subject heading “MPSG Authorship Session” by 15 October 2016.


Indicative Bibliography

The below brief bibliography comprises a selection of works that may be of particular relevance to those with an interest in this topic, or to those seeking to orient themselves therein, but is intended to be neither exhaustive nor prescriptive; there is no obligation to cite any particular work or works, either in abstract submissions or in final papers.

Bacharach, Sondra, and Deborah Tollefsen. 2011. “We Did It Again: A Reply to Livingston.” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 69, no. 2: 225–30.

Bacharach, Sondra, and Deborah Tollefsen. 2010. “We Did It: From Mere Contributors to Coauthors.” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 68, no. 1: 23–32.

Gaut, Berys. 2010. A Philosophy of Cinematic Art, Chapter 3. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hick, Darren Hudson. 2014. “Authorship, Co-Authorship, and Multiple Authorship.” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 72, no. 2: 147–56.

Livingston, Paisley. 2011. “On Authorship and Collaboration.” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 79, no. 2: 221–5.

Livingston, Paisley. 2009. Cinema, Philosophy, Bergman: On Film as Philosophy, Chapter 3. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Livingston, Paisley. 2005. Art and Intention: A Philosophical Study, Chapter 3. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Sellors, C. Paul. 2007. “Collective Authorship in Film.” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 65, no. 3: 263–71.