Theme for 2013-2014
“Sound, Sight, Text: Aural and Visual Cultures and the Practice of Literature”
A text, as an object of study, is commonly understood as an optical matter associated with words or images inscribed on a page, a screen, a canvas, a slide, film, a body. Recent scholarship in sound studies has invited scholars to re-direct attention to the voice, to performance, and especially to listening practices that impact how we understand cultures, contexts, and objects previously analyzed through approaches that privileged the eye. Sound studies, then, intersects with literary, rhetorical, and composition studies, media studies, science and technology studies, art and cultural studies, architecture, philosophy, political economy, and the practice of politics.
This shift has methodological as well as thematic implications, suggesting that literary scholars not only analyze the ways in which literature textualizes sound and silence and makes them meaningful but also how listening practices and sound technologies mediate and impact various modes of reading and writing.
This theme is designed to complement, link, and extend ongoing departmental conversations in Science and Literature, Law and Race, Digital Humanities, Affect Theory, Ethnography, Post Humanism, Queer and Disability Studies, Visual Studies, and Complexity.
Some questions to be considered:
- How are our objects of study constituted through sound and listening practices?
- How has sound production and perception changed throughout history and how does this impact analysis of literary and cultural texts?
- How do listening practices, in concert with other sensory modalities, articulate value, aesthetics, and ethics?
- What are the theoretical frameworks and academic terminologies for dealing with sound in literary and cultural studies?
- How are sound, including noise, and silence figured in writing and visual culture and toward what ends?
- What do the specific aesthetic aspects of sound achieve in contrast or in relation to visuality in writing and visual culture?
Theme for 2012-2013
Circuits and Circulation
The advances of the Information Age have led many to proclaim that we live in an age of unprecedented contact and interaction among the diverse array of peoples and cultures in the world. Is the world, however, so much smaller now than it ever has been? Are the ways in which we connect with each other, as well as create networks and affinities, so fundamentally different now as opposed to the past?
We invite applicants to think about how ideas, bodies, and texts have traveled through time and space and shaped the categories though which we make sense of the world we inhabit—and have inhabited. If we think of circulation as the “what” of these movements and circuits as the “how,” what accidents and necessities have brought us into contact with—or distanced us from—one another and how have they been represented? What roadblocks have stood in the way? How did our predecessors turn uncertainty into opportunity, the barely thinkable into the ordinary? How did the remarkable become the predictable and vice versa? What recombinations of ideas, bodies, and texts are possible to discern at the intersection of the human and the technological? What does the study of literature and culture contribute to the exploration of these questions?
Some examples of possible topics:
- Migration and Diaspora
- Food Studies
- Technology and Literature
- History of the Book
- Rhetoric of Difference
- Paradigms of Human Rights
- Transnational Perspectives on Environmental Transformation
- International Film
- Cross-disciplinary perspectives on disability
This list is not exhaustive. This theme was developed to engage the broad range of interests of undergraduate and graduate students, lecturers, faculty, and staff; to be meaningful for the various area groups within the department; and to be adaptable to pedagogical and programmatic aims.