AFRAM 404 A: Advanced African American Studies In Humanities

Black Sound Studies & The Archive

Meeting Time: 
TTh 3:30pm - 5:20pm
MOR 221
Sonnet Retman

Additional Details:

This course explores Black sound and the archive. If Black people’s lived experiences in the transatlantic diaspora have been violently distorted and suppressed--intentionally forgotten--in official archives and histories, how might we listen for an unofficial archive of Black sound and what might we hear if we listen carefully? What complex histories, experiences, memories and feelings might such an archive make audible? What listening practices, what ethics of care, might such an archive demand? How might Black sonic studies “sound” the relationship of Blackness with modernity? To pursue these questions, we will focus on various aspects of Black sound, including voice, soundscapes, audio technologies, music making, performance repertoires and modes of listening. We will engage with a range of musical genres, including blues, jazz, spirituals, R & B, soul, rock, hip hop, reggae, dub and Afro-Cuban music, and also read recent works in critical sound studies alongside essays, reviews, poetry, fiction, liner notes and other sonic texts. We will attend to the ways that music travels and creates new sonic intimacies, across historical events, social movements, and developments in sound technology. We will account for the ways in which performers, listeners, and critics have pushed against the codification and commodification of aural Blackness to imagine new politics and listening practices and alternative ways of being and belonging.

Catalog Description: 
Advanced and interdisciplinary engagement with racial formation, Black cultural production, and resistance among people of African descent throughout the Diaspora. Draws upon cultural studies perspectives with an emphasis on literature, film, music, performance, visual and material culture. Topics include art, labor, migration, politics; racial capitalism and political economy; social movements and cultural history; black intellectual traditions. Offered: AWSpS.
GE Requirements: 
Diversity (DIV)
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
May 6, 2021 - 4:16pm