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This Is How You Listen: Reading Critically Junot Díaz’s Audiobook

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Last month, T.M. Luhrmann compared the experience of reading a written book versus listening to books in the New York Times article “Audiobooks and the Return of Storytelling.” Lurhmann points out how audiobook sales jumped 20% in 2012, whereas total industry book sales went down 1%. From the looks of it, books have benefited from audiobook sales, but in literary studies, print remains the primary vehicle for analysis. Might listening to an audiobook actually change how we critically read a text?

As I listened to Junot Díaz narrate This Is How You Lose Her  (2012), the first book Díaz has read as an audiobook and the first book of short stories the author has published since 1996’s Drown, I wondered how his reading influenced how I interpreted the text. Díaz’s reading sounds less like regular speech and more like a performance, with its own cadence and rhythm:

This post approaches the audiobook as a text in itself, coming from a sound studies perspective. I attempt to conceptualize the idea of “close listening” as a methodology akin to “close reading” in literary studies. I listen for how Diaz reads the text but more specifically how the reading itself becomes a way of authoring the text.  Ultimately, I argue that Díaz’s reading becomes a re-authoring the text—re-writing the text sonically. On a broader level, I hope to add to the conversation of what it means to read an audiobook, as Birgitte Stougaard Pederson and Ibsen Have brought up in “Conceptualising the Audiobook Experience.” Using This Is How You Lose Her, I show that reading an audiobook means engaging with the text from the angle of the ear, and that close listening can become an aural reading practice that relies not so much on the visual texts, but on aural cues from the narrator.

Not one but two (!) copies of This Is How You Lose Her

Not one but two (!) copies of This Is How You Lose Her

This Is How You Lose Her revolves around Yunior, a young Dominican immigrant who grows up in New Jersey and who ends up as a professor in Boston, and the many loves he has had or that he has encountered growing up. The stories trace his progress from a young, recently arrived Yunior, to a tenured, mature Yunior, showcasing certain relationships that influence how he relates to women—in sum, illustrating how he loses the women he loves. Throughout the short story collection, Díaz also calls attention to other relationships that may influence Yunior’s perspective, for example, his brother’s attachments with women, especially toward the end of his young life as he battled cancer, and his father’s relationship with his mistress, a Dominican woman who lived in New Jersey. At the end, Díaz illuminates how a mujeriego (womanizer) like Yunior comes to be; the short stories indicate that Yunior is as much a product of his environment as he is a seller of the merchandise.

Díaz is not a professional audiobook narrator. Although Díaz has done live readings, reading the full-length version of a book one has written is a different exercise. The Penguin Audio version of the collection is based on the actual short story collection (in other words, unabridged), so it does not contain additional stories or behind the scenes interviews. Technically, it is no different than the print version.

Listening to authors read their own work has value beyond the pleasure of hearing them read their text. Scholarly writing on audiobooks has emphasized the experience of listening to an audiobook for pleasure (like Deborah Phillips’ “Talking Books: The Encounter of Literature and Technology in the Audiobook” and James Shokoff’s “What Is An Audiobook?”), but it wasn’t until the 2011 edited collection Audiobooks, Literature, and Sound Studies that audiobooks were considered on their own instead of as extensions of the literature they were based on. The allure of doing this scholarly exercise with the audiobook version of This Is How You Lose Her is that Díaz’s delivery of the text is uncommon at the least.

"Junot Diaz at the Southern Festival of Books" by Flickr user Stacey Kizer, CC BY-NC 2.0

“Junot Diaz at the Southern Festival of Books” by Flickr user Stacey Kizer, CC BY-NC 2.0

Talking about Junot Díaz’s readerly voice requires to tune into conversations about his writerly voice. In many reviews of Díaz’s books, writers discuss how Díaz deftly conveys a writer’s voice in his text, indicating that his success is that his characters have a very clear voice—or at least Yunior does. Michiko Kakutani, for example, points out how “Junot Díaz has one of the most distinctive and magnetic voices in contemporary fiction: limber, streetwise, caffeinated and wonderfully eclectic, capable of conjuring for the reader everything from the sorrows of Dominican history to the banalities of life in New Jersey.” Although this quotation is in reference to Díaz’s second book, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, it describes Díaz’s writing in terms of his voice instead of, for instance, in terms of his use of metaphors or choice of subject.

Richard Wolinsky, in his Guernica interview with Díaz, sees an overlap between Yunior and Díaz: “He’s [Yunior] got a very distinct voice, and it’s a voice that’s informed by [Diaz’s] own reading, particularly science fiction and fantasy.” Although Díaz has pointed out that Yunior is loosely based on events that have happened to him,  Wolinsky “hears” Díaz in his main character. The tone and the language Yunior uses is read as a reflection of Díaz.

Conversations about the voice of the writer point to a sensibility about sound, but are often limited to a written text. Anna Barnet, in an interview with Junot Díaz, states “His two principal linguistic registers (‘this kind of crazy Caribbean language and music’ and ‘this sort of African-American-infused American vernacular’) grind against each other along with the many other voices he ventriloquizes in his writing.” Barnet reminds readers that Díaz’s writing style is based in spoken language—particularly Díaz’s spoken language. This language of “voice” to describe a writer’s style (or, specifically, a writer’s ability to convey a clear sense of who the character is and/or their views) is commonplace but gives the impression that there is a sonic aspect to an author’s work, when in reality it is but a metaphor for something that occurs at the level of text.

A critical reading of a text that includes the audiobook rendition allows critics to add substance to those references to “voice.” In Junot Díaz’s case, it is possible that readers encounter him first through written text, and so have an expectation of what Díaz (or Yunior) would sound like live.  In my textual analysis of eight audiobook reviews (and one book review that included a mention of the narration in the audiobook) most listeners showed some sort of discomfort with Díaz’s narration. One reviewer, for example, had issue with the “smoothness” of Díaz’s narration: “At times the reading was a little shaky and uneven”. Another reviewer stated “at times his cadence is choppy, with odd pauses and emphasis on strange words that detract from the overall experience.” Reviewers also had an issue with Díaz’s pace, which is characterized by pauses in places that many not seem normal in casual American speech. These statements hint at a “weird” quality in Díaz’s speech, something that does not come through when Díaz has a casual conversation. (Listen to this podcast episode of NPR’s Alt. Latino guest-starring Díaz and compare with this video of him reading part of This Is How You Lose Her.) Although one blogger pointed out that Díaz sounded “professorial” in the reading, others used the words “native,” “authenticity,” “Dominican” and even “Jersey accent” to describe how Díaz sounded. It is unclear how these reviewers define “native” or “authentic.”

"Junot Diaz" by Flickr user ALA The American Library Association, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

“Junot Diaz” by Flickr user ALA The American Library Association, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Connecting sound to authenticity implies that Dominicans can only sound a certain way, or that the audio narration is lacking when it does not represent a “typical” Dominican voice. To the extent that Díaz is Dominican, his voice is of a Dominican male who has grown up in the Northeastern United States. His uneven audio narration creates a feeling of sonic unintelligibility in the listener, similar to the effect of including Spanish words in the written text. Díaz-as-narrator can make a listener uncomfortable, and by extension forces that reader to listen.

The sonic unintelligibility also relies on the text, on how Díaz plays with language by switching back and forth from English to Spanish. Díaz mentions in an interview with Marva Hinton that some readers are not happy with his choice of Spanglish in his writing: “There [are] folks who hear one Spanish word, and they’re convinced this is some sort of immigrant conspiracy” Farther down, in the same article, Díaz refers to his mix of Spanish and English (and a particular kind of Spanish and English at that, since he moves among Standard American English, African American Vernacular English, and Dominican Spanish) as “opaque language.” There’s a connection between the kind of “opaqueness” that Spanish gives and the unintelligible effect of Díaz read his work.

An example of how sonic unintelligibility operates in the audiobook is the first story, “The Sun, The Moon, The Stars.” This opener, told in first person, revolves about one of Yunior’s break-ups; Yunior and his girlfriend Magdalena, on whom he cheated, go to the Dominican Republic on a trip they had planned before she found out about the affair. It frames the book as being an in-depth analysis of loves lost, from the man who keeps losing them. It also sets the tone sonically for the audiobook reading: after the introduction of the book, a snippet of bachata music comes on, and then makes way for Díaz, who reads the title of the story. This is the pattern of the book: slices of bachata, followed by Díaz’s narration.

His voice is characterized by a slight sing-song cadence that is reminiscent of Dominican Spanish accent. If this were in Spanish, it might be easier to lose track of the cadence, but in English it sounds like a disembodied accent. I showcase the swing in Díaz’s narration by alternating capital letters and lower-case letters: “Her FAther, who usually would treat me like his HIjo, CALLS me an ASShole on the PHONE, SOUNDS like he’s STRANgling himself with the cord.” The voice seems to float for a while until Díaz arrives to the end of a paragraph or a series of sentences, and then it sinks. Moreover, this pattern does not change when Díaz switches characters: it’s hard to tell Yunior apart from Magdalena unless the reader pays close attention to when the narrator is switching characters and/or when the narrator uses a pronoun. The same effect comes from the odd pauses in the author’s narration: “Oh God, she wailed. Oh. My God.”


The choppiness and the emphasis in the reading are a way to dislocate the listener, in a similar way that Spanish phrases or lack of quotation marks in the text dislocate a reader who does not understand Spanish or who depends on the quotation marks to make sense of the prose.  Also, this story focuses on Magdalena withdrawing from Yunior and not communicating with him. The tone, cadence, and sound of Díaz’s voice can be read to mirror the relationship between Yunior and Magdalena (and the other women in the text): the sonic unintelligibility is manifest at the level of plot through Yunior’s relationships.

Although many audiobook reviewers may consider the plot in their reviews, part of what makes an audiobook stand out is the performance of the text. I take my cues from audiobook reviewers and consider critically my listening experience of This Is How You Lose Her and how this can become the basis for a critical interpretation of the text.  My analysis underscores that having an author read a text can provide a different way into analyzing the text and prompts readers to pay attention to sound. If, like Shokoff asserts, most audiobook readers listen to an audiobook while doing something else, Díaz shows that listening closely to the audio text can be as rewarding as reading a book.

Featured Image: “Junot Diaz” by WBUR Boston’s NPR News Station, Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License

Liana Silva-Ford is co-founder and Managing Editor of Sounding Out!.

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Sound Off! // Comment Klatsch #14: Gendered Sounds?

Sounding Off2klatsch \KLAHCH\ , noun: A casual gathering of people, esp. for refreshments and informal conversation  [German Klatsch, from klatschento gossip, make a sharp noiseof imitative origin.] (Dictionary.com)

Dear SO! Community:  Our SOCK this month comes to us from Mike D’Errico, author of the piece on the masculine “hardness” of brostep that everybody was talking about after we published it last week.  Click to read the post that started it all, “Going Hard: Bassweight, Sonic Warfare, & the “Brostep” Aesthetic.”  Click to read the response from DJ/Rupture, “Brostep, Mansplained.”  Click to read a response from Robin James, “Bro-gemony and Dubstep Production.”  Click to read a response from SO! regular Primus Luta, “To the Max, Bro.” Click to read “Forget about Brostep,” D’Errico’s response to the responses. Whew!

But we know our crowd still has so much more to say and we hope this SOCK gets at some of the larger stakes of  D’Errico’s post.  So, here comes the drop–let’s work it out! –J. Stoever-Ackerman, Editor-in-Chief

Can sound(s) be gendered?

Comment Klatsch logo courtesy of The Infatuated on Flickr.

 

Sound at MLA 2014

"Mississippi North" by Flickr  user John W. Iwanski, CC-BY-NC-2.0

Happy new year, dear Sounding Out! readers! Early January brings about New Year’s resolutions, specials on bins for holiday ornaments, Three Kings’ Day, and our yearly MLA sound studies panel round-up. This year, MLA 2014 attendees will get another blast of cold temperatures because this year’s convention is in Chicago—not much of a difference weather-wise from Boston but just as exciting! If you’re undecided about what panels to check out or if you’re not sure about where to start with the MLA Program, you’re in the right place: I combed the MLA Program page by page and condensed it just for our sound studies aficionados. If you’re sitting this MLA out or if you’re just curious about what the following panels are all about, it’s easy to follow the conference from home if you have access to Twitter. MLA is one of the most active academic conferences on social media: there’s the lively twitter hashtag #MLA14, the individual hashtags for each session (#s–followed by the session number), and an attentive twitter account (@MLAConvention), so even if you’re not in Chi-town you can still see what’s going on at your favorite panels this week.

Whereas last year some of the sound-oriented panels had a particular digital angle, this year there are several panels look at the intersection of sound and literary studies. The titles may not suggest sound, but the presentations do. For example, panel #s384 Literary Crossroads: African American Literature and Christianity includes presentations on representations of gospel and spirituality in different African American books. Another panel of interest is #s414, Literature and Media in the Nineteenth-Century United States arranged by the Division on Nineteenth-Century American Literature. (This panel resonates nicely with Sounding Out!’s Sound in the Nineteenth Century forum which just ended last Monday.) The focus on literature may come from the fact that the MLA brings many literary scholars together, but it is encouraging that the study of sound is also overlapping with the study of literature.

"Street Musicians, Chicago" by Flickr user Diana Schnuth, CC-BY-NC-2.0

“Street Musicians, Chicago” by Flickr user Diana Schnuth, CC-BY-NC-2.0

Despite that the convention brings literature scholars from across the United States together, some of the more intriguing sound-oriented panels are not focused on literature at all. In fact, several panels address sound from the angle of music. Panel #s131, The Musics of Chicago brings together High Fidelity and Lupe Fiasco, and panel #s162 on the HBO series Girls includes Chloe H. Johnson’s paper “Dancing on My Own: Popular Music and Issues of Identity in Girls. Although the fields of literary studies and cultural studies are sometimes in tension with each other, some MLA presenters are approaching popular culture particularly from an aural angle.

Music is not the only presence of sound in the MLA Program. Several panels bring up sound in conjunction with pedagogy. Some of our readers may remember the forum Sounding Out! hosted last year on sound and pedagogy—a forum of which I was a part. I’m glad to see other language, composition, and literature teachers are thinking about sound too. Panel #s114, Dialects of English Worldwide: Issues in English Language Studies includes several papers that think about spoken English nowadays. For those who are interested in how the sound of students’ speech are intersected by structural racism and public policy will find lots to think about with this panel. If you’re looking for concrete suggestions on using sound as a pedagogical approach, panel #s213 has some answers. Twenty-First-Century Pedagogies, arranged by the Discussion Group on the Two-Year College includes a presentation on sound essays by Kathryn O’Donoghue from the Graduate Center at City Univ. of New York.

Where will Team SO! be at MLA 2014? Editor-in-Chief Jennifer Stoever-Ackerman can be found at the DH Commons pre-conference workshop on Thursday, January 9, 2014; she will be presenting Friday, January 10 at 8:30 am on her research on Lead belly and Richard Wright as part of panel #s221, Singing Out in the American Literary Experience. Regular writer Regina Bradley will be presenting Friday at 5:15 pm on panel #s403 Words, Works, and New Archives: Studying African American Literature in the Twenty-First Century. Guest blogger Scott Poulson-Bryant will be at panel #s447, The Seventies in Black and White: A Soundtrack on Saturday at 8:30 am. I will be presenting on Friday morning at panel #s218, a roundtable on the graduate seminar paper and will be leading panel #s788, Back Up Your Work: Conceptualizing Writing Support for Graduate Students on Sunday at 1:45 pm. You can catch us on Twitter: @lianamsilvaford and @soundingoutblog where we’ll be live-tweeting panels and keeping followers up to date on convention chatter. Who knows, maybe there’ll be an impromptu SO! tweet-up? Stay tuned to our social media feeds!

Before I go, a shameless plug: As of this month I am the new editor of the newsletter Women in Higher Education, so if you want to meet up and talk about the newsletter please let me know!

Did I miss something? Maybe I somehow missed you or your panel in this round up? Please let me know either via email, via tweet, or post on the Sounding Out! Facebook page.


Liana Silva-Ford is co-founder and Managing Editor of Sounding Out!.

Featured image: “Mississippi North” by Flickr user John W. Iwanski, CC-BY-NC-2.0

Jump to THURSDAY, JANUARY 9, 2014
Jump to FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014
Jump to SATURDAY, JANUARY 11, 2014
Jump to SUNDAY, JANUARY 12, 2014

"Television Sam (I'm Your Main Man)" by Flickr user the justified sinner, CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0

“Television Sam (I’m Your Main Man)” by Flickr user the justified sinner, CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0

THURSDAY, JANUARY 9, 2014

8:30 am-11:30 am 
3. Get Started in the Digital Humanities with Help from DHCommons

Chicago A–B, Chicago Marriott 

PRESIDING: Ryan Cordell, Northeastern Univ.; Josh Honn, Northwestern Univ.; Katherine A. Rowe, Bryn Mawr Coll.

The workshop welcomes language and literature scholars who wish to learn about, pursue, or join digital humanities (DH) projects but do not have the institutional infrastructure to support them. Representatives of DH projects and initiatives will share their expertise on project design, outline available resources and opportunities, and lead small-group training sessions on DH technologies and skills. Preregistration required.

12:00 pm-1:15 pm

31. Radical Curators, Vulnerable Genres: Lost Histories of Collecting, Editing, Bibliography

Michigan–Michigan State, Chicago Marriott

PRESIDING: Meredith L. McGill, Rutgers Univ., New Brunswick

SPEAKERS:

Jessica J. Beard, Univ. of California, Santa Cruz;

Alex Black, Cornell Univ.;

Jane Greenway Carr, New York Univ.;

Ellen Gruber Garvey, New Jersey City Univ.

Laura Helton, Univ. of Virginia

Courtney Thorsson, Univ. of Oregon

33. Sir Walter Scott and Music

Sheffield, Chicago Marriott

Program arranged by the Lyrica Society for Word-Music Relations

PRESIDING: Jeff Dailey, Five Towns Coll.

1. “Cutting Out the Castle Quicksand: Scott’s Bride, Donizetti’s Lucia, and the ‘Personally Furious’ Ayn Rand,” Shoshana Milgram Knapp, Virginia Polytechnic Inst. and State Univ.

2. “‘Drifting through the Intellectual Atmosphere’ from Scott’s Old Morality to Liszt’s Hexameron,” Catherine Ludlow, Western Illinois Univ.

3. “Walter Scott, British Identity, and International Grand Opera: Isidore de Lara’s Amy Robsart(1893),” Tommaso Sabbatini, Univ. of Chicago

For abstracts, visit lyricasociety.org.

1:45-3:00 pm

75. Voice and Silence

Mississippi, Sheraton Chicago

Program arranged by the Division on French Medieval Language and Literature

PRESIDING: Matilda Tomaryn Bruckner, Boston Coll.

1. “Gut Feelings,” Jason D. Jacobs, Roger Williams Univ.

2. “Tomboy Silence,” Wan-Chuan Kao, Washington and Lee Univ.

3. “Giving Voice to the Word of God; or, Bernard of Clairvaux Sings the Song of Songs,” Kris Trujillo, Univ. of California, Berkeley

3:30-4:45

114. Dialects of English Worldwide: Issues in English Language Studies

Illinois, Chicago Marriott

Program arranged by the Discussion Group on Present-Day English Language 

PRESIDING: Elizabeth Bell Canon, Emory Univ.

1. “‘Speak the Language of Your Flag’: American Policy Responses to Nonanglophone Immigrants,” Dennis E. Baron, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana

2. “The Sounds of Silence: Standard and Nonstandard Englishes in Contemporary Ethnic American Writing,” Melissa Dennihy, Queensborough Community Coll., City Univ. of New York

3. “Star Spanglish Banter: Harnessing Students’ Linguistic Expertise,” Jill Hallett, Northeastern Illinois Univ.

4. “Emerging Attitudes toward New Media within the Discourses of Poetics and Literature,” April Pierce, Univ. of Oxford

5:15-6:30

131. The Musics of Chicago

Chicago H, Chicago Marriott 

PRESIDING: Shawn Higgins, Univ. of Connecticut, Storrs

1. “Sweet Home Chicago? (Dis)Locating the American ‘Race Record’ in High Fidelity,” Jürgen E. Grandt, Univ. of North Georgia

2. “Experiment and Exodus in the Music of Chicago,” Toshiyuki Ohwada, Keio Univ.

3. “Fly Girls or Blackface? The Racial and Gender Politics of Lupe Fiasco,” Jorge Santos, Univ. of Connecticut, Storrs

141. Enduring Noise: Sound and Sexual Difference

Illinois, Chicago Marriott

PRESIDING: Rizvana Bradley, Emory Univ.

1. “Listening to Gertrude Stein’s Repeating: Sonorous Temporality in The Making of Americans,” Erin McNellis, Univ. of California, Irvine

2. “Queer Extensities: Pauline Oliveros and Disco,” Amalle Dublon, Duke Univ.

3. “Metal, Reproduction, and the Politics of Doom,” Aliza Shvarts, New York Univ.

RESPONDING: Rizvana Bradley

7:00-8:15 pm

162. Girls and the F Word: Twenty-First-Century Representations of Women’s Lives

Los Angeles–Miami, Chicago Marriott 

PRESIDING : Tahneer Oksman, Marymount Manhattan Coll.

1. “‘My Shoes Match My Dress . . . Kind Of!’: The Politics of Dressing and Nakedness in Girls,” Laura Scroggs, Univ. of Minnesota, Twin Cities

2. “She’s Just Not That into You: Girls, Dating, and Damage,” Jennifer Mitchell, Weber State Univ.

3. “Dancing on My Own: Popular Music and Issues of Identity in Girls,” Chloe H. Johnson, York Univ., Keele

RESPONDING: Nancy K. Miller, Graduate Center, City Univ. of New York

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"Untitled" by Flickr user d76, CC-BY-NC-2.0

“Untitled” by Flickr user d76, CC-BY-NC-2.0

FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

8:30 am-9:45 am

207. Diversifying the Victorian Verse Archives

Chicago A–B, Chicago Marriott 

PRESIDING : Meredith Martin, Princeton Univ.

1. “Recovering Tennyson’s ‘Melody in Poetry’: Salon Recitations and Musical Settings,” Phyllis Weliver, Saint Louis Univ.

2. “Morris Metrics: The Work of Meter in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” Yopie Prins, Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor

3. “Digital Archives and the Music of Victorian Poetry,” Joanna Swafford, Univ. of Virginia

For abstracts, visit https://sites.google.com/a/slu.edu/diversifying-the-victorian-verse-archives/

213. Twenty-First-Century Pedagogies

Michigan–Michigan State, Chicago Marriott

Program arranged by the Discussion Group on the Two-Year College 

PRESIDING: Stacey Lee Donohue, Central Oregon Community Coll.

1. “Not on Wikipedia: Making the Local Visible,” Laurel Harris, Queensborough Community Coll., City Univ. of New York

2. “Survival Spanish Online: Designing a Community College Course That Bridges Culture and Authentic Connections,” Cecilia McGinniss Kennedy, Clark State Community Coll., OH

3. “Sound Essays: A Cure for the Common Core,” Kathryn O’Donoghue, Graduate Center, City Univ. of New York

4. “Leveling Up! Gamifying the Literature Classroom,” Jessica Lewis-Turner, Temple Univ., Philadelphia

For abstracts, visit commons.mla.org/groups/the-two-year-college/announcements/ after 15 Dec.

217. Cuba on Stage

Arkansas, Sheraton Chicago

Program arranged by the Discussion Group on Cuban and Cuban Diaspora Cultural Production 

PRESIDING: Vicky Unruh, Univ. of Kansas

1. “José Triana, Virgilio Piñera, and the Racial Erotics of Cuban Tragedy,” Armando Garcia, Univ. of Pittsburgh

2. “Estorino’s Gray Ghosts,” David Lisenby, Univ. at Albany, State Univ. of New York

3. “Musical Trangressions on the Cuban Stage: Rap, Rock, and Reggaeton,” Elena Valdez, Swarthmore Coll.

4. “Locating the Malecón,” Bretton White, Colby Coll.

221. Singing Out in the American Literary Experience

Old Town, Chicago Marriott

Program arranged by the Discussion Group on Folklore and Literature 

PRESIDING: Mark Allan Jackson, Middle Tennessee State Univ.

1. “Re-sounding Folk Voice, Remaking the Ballad: Alan Lomax, Margaret Walker, and the New Criticism,” Derek Furr, Bard Coll.

2. “‘A Voice to Match All That’: Lead Belly, Richard Wright, and Lynching’s Sound Track,” Jennifer Stoever-Ackerman, Binghamton Univ., State Univ. of New York

3. “Stunting Gualinto: The Limits of Corrido Heroism in Americo Paredes’s George Washington Gomez,” Melanie Hernandez, Univ. of Washington, Seattle

For abstracts, write to majackso@mtsu.edu.

10:15-11:30

261. Applying Linguistics to the Learning of Middle Eastern Languages

Huron, Sheraton Chicago

Program arranged by the Discussion Group on General Linguistics 

PRESIDING: Terrence Potter, Georgetown Univ.

1. “How Strategic Can They Be? Differences between Student and Instructor Attitudes toward Language Learning Strategies,” Gregory Ebner, United States Military Acad.

2. “Needs-Analysis Informed Task Design in Arabic Foreign Language Programs in the United States: Insights from Learner Perceptions and Production,” Maimoonah Al Khalil, King Saud Univ., Riyadh

3. “Linguistic Advantages and Constraints in the Classroom: Judeo-Spanish as an L2,” Bryan Kirschen, Univ. of California, Los Angeles

For abstracts, write to tmp28@georgetown.edu.

263. John Clare: The Voices of Nature

Chicago C, Chicago Marriott

Program arranged by the John Clare Society of North America 

PRESIDING: Rochelle Johnson, Coll. of Idaho

1. “Speaking for the Trees: Margaret Cavendish, John Clare, and Voicing Nature,” Bridget Mary Keegan, Creighton Univ.

2. “Clare’s Air: Sound in Motion,” Paul Chirico, Univ. of Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Coll.

3. “John Clare: The Unusual and Challenging Natural Historian,” Eric H. Robinson, Univ. of Massachusetts, Boston

12:00 pm-1:15 pm

269A. Chicago Latina/o Writing: A Creative Conversation

Sheraton I, Sheraton Chicago

Program arranged by the Office of the Executive Director 

PRESIDING: Ariana Ruiz, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana

SPEAKERS: Rey Andújar, Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico y el Caribe

Brenda Cárdenas, Univ. of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Paul Martínez Pompa, Triton Coll.

Achy Obejas, Chicago, IL

270. Women’s Education in Third World Countries

Parlor G, Sheraton Chicago

Program arranged by the Discussion Group on Interdisciplinary Approaches to Culture and Society 

PRESIDING : Shirin E. Edwin, Sam Houston State Univ.

1. “Narrative Approaches to Transmitting Regional Oral and Instrumental Literary Traditions in the Works of Aminata Sow Fall,” Julie Ann Huntington, Marymount Manhattan Coll.

2. “Gender, Class, and Education: Intersections in South Asian Literature,” Maryse Jayasuriya, Univ. of Texas, El Paso

3. “Women’s Schooling in Clarice Lispector’s Narrative: A Brazilian Education,” Alejandro E. Latinez, Sam Houston State Univ.

279. Dadaphone: Indeterminacy in Words and Music

Huron, Chicago Marriott

Program arranged by the Lyrica Society for Word-Music Relations and the Association for the Study of Dada and Surrealism 

PRESIDING : Jeff Dailey, Five Towns Coll.

1. “Black Dada,” Kathy Lou Schultz, Univ. of Memphis

2. “Aleatory Adaptation and Indeterminate Interpretation: Radiohead’s In Rainbows as Faustian Rock Opera,” Meg Tarquinio Roche, Northeastern Univ.

3. “Game Changer: Cage’s Word-Music Combination in ‘Renunion’ and ‘Solo 23,’” Sydney Boyd, Rice Univ.

4. “Graphic Notation in Contemporary Music and Its Debt to Dada,” Laura Prichard, Univ. of Massachusetts, Lowell

For abstracts, visit lyricasociety.org.

5:15 pm-6:30 pm

384. Literary Crossroads: African American Literature and Christianity

Addison, Chicago Marriott

Program arranged by the Conference on Christianity and Literature and the Division on Literature and Religion 

PRESIDING: Katherine Clay Bassard, Virginia Commonwealth Univ.

1. “God’s Trombones, the Social Gospel, and the Harlem Renaissance,” Jonathan Fedors, Univ. of Pennsylvania

2. “When the Gospel Sings the Blues in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man,” Claudia Rosemary May, Univ. of California, Berkeley

3. “Faith Moves: Belief and the Body in Bill T. Jones’s Chapel/Chapter and Toni Morrison’sParadise,” Leslie Elizabeth Wingard, Coll. of Wooster

For abstracts, write to kcbassar@vcu.edu.

403. Words, Works, and New Archives: Studying African American Literature in the Twenty-First Century

Michigan–Michigan State, Chicago Marriott

Program arranged by the College Language Association 

PRESIDING : Warren Carson, Univ. of South Carolina, Spartanburg

1. “The Field and Function of African American Literary Scholarship: A Memorial and a Challenge,” Dana A. Williams, Howard Univ.

2. “The Black Book: Creating an Interactive Research Environment,” Kenton Rambsy, Univ. of Kansas

3. “Keepin’ It Interactive: Hip-Hop in the Age of Digital Reproduction,” Regina Bradley, Kennesaw State Univ.; Jeremy Dean, Rap Genius, Inc.

414. Literature and Media in the Nineteenth-Century United States

Chicago A–B, Chicago Marriott

Program arranged by the Division on Nineteenth-Century American Literature 

PRESIDING : Meredith L. McGill, Rutgers Univ., New Brunswick

SPEAKERS: Jonathan Elmer, Indiana Univ., Bloomington

Teresa Alice Goddu, Vanderbilt Univ.

Naomi Greyser, Univ. of Iowa

Brian Hochman, Georgetown Univ.

Christopher J. Lukasik, Purdue Univ., West Lafayette

Lauren A. Neefe, Stony Brook Univ., State Univ. of New York

For project statements, panelist biographies, and description of roundtable format, visit19thcamlitdiv.wordpress.com after 1 Dec.

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"Cubs Stomp" by Flickr user John W. Iwanski, CC-BY-NC-2.0

“Cubs Stomp” by Flickr user John W. Iwanski, CC-BY-NC-2.0

SATURDAY, JANUARY 11, 2014

8:30 am-9:45 am

441. Socialist Senses

Ohio, Sheraton Chicago

Program arranged by the Discussion Group on Slavic Literatures and Cultures 

PRESIDING : Nancy Condee, Univ. of Pittsburgh

1. “The Materiality of Sound: Esfir Shub’s Haptic Cinema,” Lilya Kaganovsky, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana

2. “From the Cinema of Attractions to the Cinema of Affect in Early Socialist Realism,” R. J. D. Bird, Univ. of Chicago

3. “Ineluctable Modality of the Visible: Gorky’s Return and the Onset of Clarity,” Petre M. Petrov, Princeton Univ.

For abstracts, visit mlaslavic.blogspot.com/ after 30 Dec.

447. The Seventies in Black and White: A Soundtrack

Purdue-Wisconsin, Chicago Marriott 

PRESIDING : Jack Hamilton, Harvard Univ.

1. “Mutts of the Planet: Joni Mitchell Channels Charles Mingus,” David Yaffe, Syracuse Univ.

2. “Righteous Minstrels: Race, Writing, and the Clash,” Jack Hamilton

3. “Broken Masculinities: Black Sound, White Men, and New York City,” Scott Poulson-Bryant, Harvard Univ.

10:15 am-11:30 am

474. African American Voices from the Civil War

Michigan–Michigan State, Chicago Marriott 

PRESIDING : Timothy Sweet, West Virginia Univ., Morgantown

1. “The Color of Quaintness: Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Black Song, and American Union,”Jeremy Wells, Indiana Univ. Southeast

2. “‘If We Ever Expect to Be a Pepple’: The Literary Culture of African American Soldiers,” Christopher A. Hager, Trinity Coll., CT

3. “‘And Terrors Broke from Hill to Hill’: The Civil War Poems of George Moses Horton,” Faith Barrett, Duquesne Univ.

4. “The Negro in the American Rebellion: William Wells Brown and the Design of African American History,” John Ernest, Univ. of Delaware, Newark

485. Digital Practice: Social Networks across Borders

Missouri, Sheraton Chicago

Program arranged by the Division on Twentieth-Century German Literature 

PRESIDING : Stefanie Harris, Texas A&M Univ., College Station

1. “Kafka and the Kafkaesques: Close Reading Online Fan Fiction,” Bonnie Ruberg, Univ. of California, Berkeley

2. “Network Politics, Wireless Protocols, and Public Space,” Erik Born, Univ. of California, Berkeley

3. “Intersections of Music, Politics, and Digital Media: Bandista,” Ela Gezen, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst

Responding: Yasemin Yildiz, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana

For abstracts, visit german.berkeley.edu/transit.

12:00 pm-1:15 pm

508. Performing Blackness in the Nineteenth Century

Chicago A–B, Chicago Marriott

Program arranged by the Division on Nineteenth-Century American Literature 

PRESIDING : Harvey Young, Northwestern Univ.

1. “Being Touched: Sojourner Truth’s ‘Spiritual Theatre’ and the Genealogy of Radical Black Activism,” Jayna Brown, Univ. of California, Riverside

2. “Frederick Douglass and the ‘Claims’ of Democratic Individuality in Antebellum Political Theory,” Douglas Jones, Princeton Univ.

3. “’Dey Make Me Say Dat All De Time: Performance Art, Objecthood, and Joice Heth’s Sonic of Dissent,” Uri McMillan, Univ. of California, Los Angeles

509. Becoming Chroniclers: Latin American Women Writers and the Press, 1920–73

Parlor F, Sheraton Chicago 

PRESIDING : Vicky Unruh, Univ. of Kansas

1. “The Opportunities of Technology: Cube Bonifant’s Radiophonic Chronicles in El universal ilustrado,” Viviane A. Mahieux, Univ. of California, Irvine

2. “Key Moments in the Subversion of a Genre: Alfonsina Storni and Clarice Lispector Redefine Womanhood,” Mariela Méndez, Univ. of Richmond

3. “Issues of Gender and Genre: Isabel Allende and Clarice Lispector Writing Chronicles, 1968–73,” Claudia Mariana Darrigrandi, Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez

1:45 pm-3:00pm

572. Illness and Disability Memoir as Embodied Knowledge

Los Angeles–Miami, Chicago Marriott

Program arranged by the MLA Committee on Disability Issues in the Profession 

PRESIDING : Rachel Adams, Columbia Univ.

1. “Recoding Silence: Teresa de Cartagena, Medieval Sign Lexicons, and Deaf Life Writing,” Jonathan H. Hsy, George Washington Univ.

2. “‘Twisted and Deformed’: Virginia Woolf, Alison Bechdel, and Crip-Feminist Autobiography,” Cynthia Barounis, Washington Univ. in St. Louis

3. “‘My Worry Now Accumulates’: Sensorial and Emotional Contagion in Autistic Life Writing,” Ralph James Savarese, Grinnell Coll.

For papers or abstracts, write to rea15@columbia.edu after 1 Jan.

3:30 pm-4:45 pm

586. Early Modern Media Ecologies

Great America, Chicago Marriott 

PRESIDING: Jen Boyle, Coastal Carolina Univ.

1. “Needlework Networks: Paper, Prints, and Female Authorship,” Whitney Trettien, Duke Univ.

2. “Sidney Circularities: Music and Script in the Contrafactum Lyric,” Scott A. Trudell, Univ. of Maryland, College Park

3. “Stage, Stall, Street, Sheet: Multimedia Shakespeare,” Adam G. Hooks, Univ. of Iowa

For abstracts, visit www.scotttrudell.com.

591. Multilingualism in Native American and Aboriginal Texts

Kane, Chicago Marriott

Program arranged by the Division on American Indian Literatures 

PRESIDING : Beth H. Piatote, Univ. of California, Berkeley

1. “Reading Resistance and Resisting Readings in a Bilingual Text,” Laura J. Beard, Univ. of Alberta

2. “Narrative and Orthography in Cree Oral Histories,” Stephanie J. Fitzgerald, Univ. of Kansas

3. “Ongwe Onwe Languages in the Fourth Epoch of Iroquois History,” Penelope M. Kelsey, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder

4. “Poetics of ka ‘āina and na ‘ōiwi: Language(s) of Land, Earth, and the Hawaiian People in Haunani-Kay Trask’s Night Is a Sharkskin Drum,” Nicole Tabor, Moravian Coll.

5:15 pm-6:30 pm

624. Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy in Medieval and Early Modern England: Form and History

Old Town, Chicago Marriott 

PRESIDING : Ian Cornelius, Yale Univ.

1. “Singing and Speaking Boethius in Anglo-Saxon England,” Anne Schindel, Yale Univ.

2. “Sensible Prose and the Sense of Meter: Ethics and the Mixed Form in Boethius and After,” Eleanor Johnson, Columbia Univ.

3. “Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy and an Expansive Theology in the Late Sixteenth Century: Queen Elizabeth’s Translation in Context,” Linda Suzanne Shenk, Iowa State Univ.

For abstracts, write to ian.cornelius@yale.edu.

625. Verbal and Visual Satire in the Nineteenth Century

Chicago F, Chicago Marriott 

PRESIDING : Joseph Litvak, Tufts Univ.

1. “Organizing Anarchy: Class, Intellectual Property, and Graphic Satire,” Jason Kolkey, Loyola Univ., Chicago

2. “The Reemergence of Radical Satire in the Late Nineteenth Century,” Frank A. Palmeri, Univ. of Miami

3. “Turn-of-the-Century Satirical Plots of Fenian and Anarchist Terrorism,” Jennifer Malia, Norfolk State Univ

645. Current Issues in Romance Linguistics

Parlor F, Sheraton Chicago

Program arranged by the Discussion Group on Comparative Romance Linguistics 

PRESIDING : Andrea Perez Mukdsi, Univ. at Buffalo, State Univ. of New York

1. “Attribution in Romance: Reconstructing the Oral and Written Tradition,” Martin Hummel, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz

2. “Pronouns and the Author-Reader Relationship in Academic Portuguese,” Karina Veronica Molsing, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul; Cristina Perna, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul

3. “The Semantic Feature [+INFLUENCE] and the Spanish Subjunctive,” M. Emma Ticio Quesada, Syracuse Univ.

4. “Palatalization in Chilean Spanish and Proto-romance,” Carolina Gonzalez, Florida State Univ.

For abstracts, write to perezmukdsi@gmail.com.

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"Mayb Your New Year Be Merry and Bright..." by Flickr user Jason Mrachina, CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0

“Mayb Your New Year Be Merry and Bright…” by Flickr user Jason Mrachina, CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0

SUNDAY, JANUARY 12, 2014

12:00 pm-1:15 pm

742. Socialist Culture in the Age of Disco: East European Popular Pleasures

Parlor F, Sheraton Chicago

Program arranged by the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages 

PRESIDING: Jessie M. Labov, Ohio State Univ., Columbus

1. “Imperial Disco: Czeslaw Milosz and Science Fiction,” Mikolaj Golubiewski, Free Univ.

2. “The ‘Movement of Writing Workers’ and State Stability in the 1970s German Democratic Republic,” William Waltz, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison

3. “Flaming Socialist Creatures: Hippies as Auteurs in Soviet Latvia,” Mark Svede, Ohio State Univ., Columbus

For abstracts, visit mlaslavic.blogspot.com/.

744. Mass versus Coterie: The Audiobook

Missouri, Sheraton Chicago

Program arranged by the Division on Prose Fiction 

PRESIDING : Rebecca L. Walkowitz, Rutgers Univ., New Brunswick

1. “‘Fully Fleshed Out and Filled with Emotion’: Accent, Region, and Identification in the Reception of The Help,” Sydney Bufkin, Univ. of Texas, Austin

2. “Joyce, LibriVox, and the Recording Coterie,” Brandon Walsh, Univ. of Virginia

3. “Alien Stereo: China Mieville’s Embassytown,” Christopher Pizzino, Univ. of Georgia

1:45 pm-3:00 pm

788. Back Up Your Work: Conceptualizing Writing Support for Graduate Students

Grace, Chicago Marriott 

PRESIDING : Liana Silva-Ford, Houston, TX

SPEAKERS:

Tara Betts, Binghamton Univ., State Univ. of New York;

Lee Ann Glowzenski, Duquesne Univ.;

Annemarie Pérez, Loyola Marymount Univ.

Abigail Scheg, Elizabeth City State Univ.

792. Old Materials, New Materialisms

Missouri, Sheraton Chicago

Program arranged by the Division on Methods of Literary Research

1. “Objects, Authors, and Other Matter(s) in the Gloria Anzaldúa Archive,” Suzanne M. Bost, Loyola Univ., Chicago

2. “Writing Histories of Listening: Acoustemology as Literary Practice,” Ely Rosenblum, Univ. of Cambridge

3. “Even the Stones Cry Out: Archival Research and the Inhuman Turn,” Andrew Ferguson, Univ. of Virginia

4. “A Life of Its Own: A Vital Materialist Look at the Medieval Manuscript as an Agentic Assemblage,” Angela Bennett Segler, New York Univ.

"my kind of razzmatazz" by Flickr user David D'Agostino, CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0

“my kind of razzmatazz” by Flickr user David D’Agostino, CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0

Sound Off! // Comment Klatsch #13: Most Memorable Sound of 2013

Sounding Off2klatsch \KLAHCH\ , noun: A casual gathering of people, esp. for refreshments and informal conversation  [German Klatsch, from klatschento gossip, make a sharp noiseof imitative origin.] (Dictionary.com)

Dear Readers:  It’s a new year, and the SOCK returns with our now annual tradition of listening back to the past year.  Join us now and the first Thursday of every month. We’re listening –J. Stoever-Ackerman, Editor-in-Chief

What was the most memorable sound of 2013 and why? 

Comment Klatsch logo courtesy of The Infatuated on Flickr.

 

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