Hearing and Queering Convergence Across Sound and Text

Thursday, Sep 26, 2013 - Thursday, Sep 26, 2013 | 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

691 Barrows Hall

Center for Race Gender Thursday Forum Series presents…
Hearing and Queering Convergence Across Sound and Text
This panel explores the ways in which sound articulates race, nation, culture, and sexuality. Examining the work of several artists, we illustrate the varied aesthetic strategies they have used to pose alternative possibilities for the expression of marginalized identities in the sonic realm and beyond.

Sounding Unity: Paul Robeson’s Afro Asian Interruption
Prof. Tamara Roberts, Music
Tamara will look closely at Chee Lai: Songs of New China, an album on which Paul Robeson recorded several Chinese folksongs and articulated a “politics of affinity” between African American and Chinese struggles against domination. Robeson was a key artist who worked to create a sonic analog to the anti-colonial uprisings of the early and mid-20th century. For decades he performed and recorded folksongs from around the world, establishing an aesthetic vocabulary for Third World politics based on cultural pride, the voice of the working class, and intercultural, interracial, and international solidarity. In doing so, he presented a notion of cultural similarity based on the experience of oppression—rather than race or nation—as well as a conception of community that stretched beyond a singular racial or cultural label. Naturalizing racial and cultural juxtapositions in a way that was rarely seen prior on U.S. stages, Robeson’s “music of color” laid the groundwork for subsequent artists and exchanges.
Sounding Chicana/o Narratives: Feminist Affinities, Queer Sonorities
Wanda Alarcón, Ethnic Studies
Wanda’s talk explores the audible themes of feminist, queer, and cross-racial solidarity in the short stories, “Minnie Riperton Saved My Life” by Luis Alfaro and “Woman Hollering Creek” by Sandra Cisneros. The aural fields of meaning or what can be understood as “soundscapes” embedded in Chicana/o narratives have not been fully engaged in prior readings. Yet, literature is replete with references to sound, music, lyrics, noise, silence, and other aural traces that suggest other modes of analysis—that we “listen”. Thus, in sounding these Chicana/o narratives, the complex feminist solidarities, cross-racial affinities, and queer becomings enacted by the stories’ protagonists become productively amplified. This paper asks three related questions: What makes these stories “queer”? Can a story be a narrative, a map, a mix-tape? Is the reading and listening audience the same? Tuning into the richly sounded worlds in these stories may offer ways to understand something more about “queerness” in Chicano literature.

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