Alexander G. Weheliye: Phonographies: Grooves in Sonic Afro-Modernity (2005)

9 June 2020, dusan

Phonographies explores the numerous links and relays between twentieth-century black cultural production and sound technologies from the phonograph to the Walkman. Highlighting how black authors, filmmakers, and musicians have actively engaged with recorded sound in their work, Alexander G. Weheliye contends that the interplay between sound technologies and black music and speech enabled the emergence of modern black culture, of what he terms ‘sonic Afro-modernity’. He shows that by separating music and speech from their human sources, sound-recording technologies beginning with the phonograph generated new modes of thinking, being, and becoming. Black artists used these new possibilities to revamp key notions of modernity—among these, ideas of subjectivity, temporality, and community. Phonographies is a powerful argument that sound technologies are integral to black culture, which is, in turn, fundamental to Western modernity.

Weheliye surveys literature, film, and music to focus on engagements with recorded sound. He offers substantial new readings of canonical texts by W. E. B. Du Bois and Ralph Ellison, establishing dialogues between these writers and popular music and film ranging from Louis Armstrong’s voice to DJ mixing techniques to Darnell Martin’s 1994 movie I Like It Like That. Looking at how questions of diasporic belonging are articulated in contemporary black musical practices, Weheliye analyzes three contemporary Afro-diasporic musical acts: the Haitian and African American rap group the Fugees, the Afro- and Italian-German rap collective Advanced Chemistry, and black British artist Tricky and his partner Martina. Phonographies imagines the African diaspora as a virtual sounding space, one that is marked, in the twentieth century and twenty-first, by the circulation of culture via technological reproductions—records and tapes, dubbing and mixing, and more.”

Publisher Duke University Press, Durham, NC, 2005
ISBN 0822335778, 9780822335771
xii+286 pages

Reviews: Matthew Somoroff (NewBlackMan, 2006), Greg Tate (Souls, 2007), Emma Louise Kilkelly (Journal of American Studies, 2007), George Lipsitz (Journal of the Society for American Music, 2008).

Commentary: Alexander G. Weheliye (Small Axe, 2014), Tavia Nyong’o (Small Axe, 2014).

Publisher
WorldCat

PDF

Teresa de Lauretis, Stephen Heath (eds.): The Cinematic Apparatus (1980)

26 May 2020, dusan

Papers and discussions from a conference organised by the Center for Twentieth Century Studies of University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee in February 1978.

Publisher St. Martin’s Press, New York, and Macmillan, London, 1980
ISBN 0312139071, 9780312139070
x+213 pages

Reviews: William C. Wees (Cinema Journal, 1982), Nigel Floyd (Framework, 1981).
Commentary: Thomas Elsaesser (Recherches sémiotiques, 2011).

Conference
Editor
WorldCat

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Jennifer Iverson: Electronic Inspirations: Technologies of the Cold War Musical Avant-Garde (2018)

29 April 2020, dusan

“Cold War electronic music—made with sine tone and white-noise generators, filters, and magnetic tape—was the driving force behind the evolution of both electronic and acoustic music in the second half of the twentieth century. Electronic music blossomed at the Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR [West German Radio]) in Cologne in the 1950s, when technologies were plentiful and the need for cultural healing was great. Building an electronic studio, West Germany confronted the decimation of the “Zero Hour” and began to rebuild its cultural prowess. The studio’s greatest asset was its laboratory culture, where composers worked under a paradigm of invisible collaboration with technicians, scientists, performers, intellectuals, and the machines themselves. Composers and their invisible collaborators repurposed military machinery in studio spaces that were formerly fascist broadcasting propaganda centers. Composers of Cold War electronic music reappropriated information theory and experimental phonetics, creating aesthetic applications from military discourses. In performing such reclamations, electronic music optimistically signaled cultural growth and progress, even as it also sonified technophobic anxieties. Electronic music—a synthesis of technological, scientific, and aesthetic discourses—was the ultimate Cold War innovation, and its impacts reverberate today.”

Publisher Oxford University Press, New York, 2018
The New Cultural History of Music series
ISBN 9780190868192, 0190868198
xi+303 pages

Reviews: Lucie Vágnerová (Integral, 2019), Ted Gordon (Current Musicology, 2019), James Davis (Music & Letters, 2019), Maurice Windleburn (Sound Studies, 2020).

Publisher
WorldCat

PDF (32 MB)