Sonic Aspects of Religious Experience: Phenomenology of Immersion (Western APA 2022, Vancouver)

The panel will be held on Friday April 15, evening, 7:00 to 9.00 PM

Sonic Aspects of Religious Experience: Phenomenology of Immersion

Chair: Martin Nitsche (Society for Phenomenology of Religious Experience, Vice-President)


– Bruce E. Benson, University of Vienna

Immersive Religious Experience: How Music Drives Religion

 – Martin Nitsche, Institute of Philosophy, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague

Immersive Sonic Environments: A Phenomenological-Topological Approach

 – Vit Pokorny, Institute of Philosophy, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague

Rhythm as Part of Religious Practices

 – Molly Kelly, Emory University

Soundscapes of Grief: Place, Power, and the Phenomenology of Keening

Call for Papers

Compared with vision, which necessarily employs distancing from the seen object, acoustic
perception is considered to be an immersive experience. In religious contexts, on the other
hand, immersion characterizes experiences such as meditation, prayer, ritual, and pilgrimage.
The panel aims, therefore, to utilize phenomenological tools (by phenomenology we
understand the philosophical method originated by Husserl) to investigate connections
between auditory experience and religious or spiritual immersion. The auditory experience in
terms of this CFP includes not only religious music or spiritual chants but also natural or
technical sounds as we encounter them in our lived environments.
Within this framework, focusing on the phenomenon of immersion, we intend to address
among other:

  • Phenomenological methodology: how it relates to sonic phenomena.
  • Inter- and trans-disciplinarity of sonic research: phenomenology, musicology, psychology,
    neuroscience, and artistic research.
  • Sonic phenomena in religion.
  • Music and its relation to religious experience.
  • Singing and its relation to religious experience.
  • Dancing and its relation to religious experience.
  • Religious experience and silence.
  • Rhythm and rhythmicity of religious experience.
  • Religious soundscapes.
  • Negative aspects of immersion: being-lost in experiencing.
    Please, send a short abstract of 20 min talks (200 words approx., incl. your name and
    affiliation) until September 17. Use this e-mail address:; add “Sonic
    Aspects of Religious Experience: Immersion” to the subject-line. Notifications of acceptance
    will be sent until September 27.
    All presenters must register for the Pacific Division meeting of the American Philosophical
    Association. It is possible, according to the Covid-situation, that the meeting (and the panel)
    will be transferred to an US location or held remotely as an on-line conference (check for up-dates).

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