Tag Archive | Osvaldo Oyola

Sounding Out ! Podcast #19: Solid Gold Summer

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Amber lights at 3AM on a humid July night. Hamburger buns, potato salad, and mustard. A nice beer at sundown. It ain’t summer without these golden moments which drip flavor and stand, timeless, in our memories. We keep a playlist of classics which can only be described as “solid gold.” For Sounding Out!’s fourth blog-o-versary, here is a mix  of songs which will forever sound summer.

-AT

Solid Gold Summer (Just the Hits):

“Metal Guru” – T Rex (Aaron Trammell)
“Sail to the Sun” – Wavves (Jennifer Stoever-Ackerman)
“212″ – Azaelia Banks (Justin Burton)
“Unfair” – Pavement (Airek Beauchamp)
“John, I’m Only Dancing (again)” – David Bowie (Brooke Carlson)
“La Santa Cecilia” – Ice El Heilo (Santa Perversa)
“Computer Love” – Zapp & Roger (Tara Betts)
“In the Park” – Ghostface Killah feat. Black Thought (Carter Mathes)
“Go Wild in the Country” – Bow Wow Wow (Seth Mulliken)
“Kill Surf City” – The Jesus and Mary Chain (D. Travers Scott)
“Pretty Girl Rock” – Keri Hilson (R.N. Bradley)
“Another Love” – Alice Smith (Roshanak Kheshti)
“‘Foreign Bodies’ Astoria-Megler Bridge” – Radiation City (Osvaldo Oyola)
“Summer Can’t Come Too Soon” – A.J. Croce (Bill Kirkpatrick)
“I Love It” – Icona Pop (Liana Silva-Ford)

Sound at MLA 2013

It is that time of year again: the winter holidays, the new year, and, yes, the Modern Language Association Annual Convention–which finally returns to the East Coast after two years on the West Coast. It will be held in Boston, Massachusetts, from January 3rd to January 6th, 2013. MLA is one of the most present academic conferences on social media, with the active twitter hashtag #MLA13, the individual hashtags for each session (#s–followed by the session number), convention-wide free wifi, and an attentive twitter account (@MLAConvention), so it is easy to get overwhelmed by the commotion even if you are physically away from the conference. However, we’re hoping to make this year’s program (795 official panels in all!) a little easier to digest by bringing you the round-up of the panels with presentations related to sound studies.

“Northeastern University, Boston, MA” by Flickr user ksparrow11 under Creative Commons 2.0 License

This year’s MLA will be preceded by several preconference workshops as well asTHATCamp MLA (on January 2nd, 2013, at Northeastern University). Our editor-in-chief, Jennifer Stoever-Ackerman, will be attending and sharing Sounding Out! as one of the examples at “Evaluating Digital Work for Tenure and Promotion: A Workshop for Evaluators and Candidates,” while I will be at “Getting Started in Digital Humanities with Help from DH Commons” (off-site, at Northeastern University, which explains why it’s not in the program). The editorial staff at Sounding Out! has been thinking for a while about digital humanities and how our work here could be classified as such. (Digital humanities has been defined both in terms of its tools as well as its practices.) Jennifer and I are eager to engage with other DH scholars, ask questions, and think of different ways that sound studies intersects digital humanities.

 

The digital humanities are becoming more and more prominent at MLA; Jennifer posited last year that the number of DH panels could be related to last year’s location, Seattle. On the other hand, Mark Sample points out that this year there are more panels on digital humanities subjects than the last two years (if you are interested, he has a comprehensive round-up of the digital humanities panels at this year’s MLA). It’s fitting then, that some of the sound-related posts in our round-up come from the digital humanities angle. We have also included some session that look at digital humanities methods and practices (like session #639,  Two Tools for Student- Generated Digital Projects: WordPress and Omeka in the Classroom) and that may be of interest to sound-studies scholars.

 

However, the DH panels are not the only panels for sound studies enthusiasts. In addition to several presentations addressing aural phenomena in literature, there are several panels on disability studies that include presentations on deafness. Some of these panels focus on literary representations of disability, but others focus on the disabilities themselves. For example, session 236, titled “Representations of Cultural Resistance: Deafness and Power”  includes a presentation by Rebecca Garden called “Reproducing Deafness: Visual Culture and Pathology.” These panels fit into the Presidential Theme of the conference, “Avenues of Access.”

 
Lastly, Jennifer, regular contributor Osvaldo Oyola, and I will be presenting at this year’s MLA. Jennifer is participating in a roundtable Saturday at 3:30; look out for session #588, “Race and Poetics: On Aesthetic Practice in Ethnic Studies,” which considers cultural difference as seen in different genres and media. Osvaldo is presenting on Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao in session #97, “American Linguistic Plurality.” I will be presenting at a non-sound-studies panel on Friday at noon titled “How Did I Get Here? Our ‘Altac’ Jobs” (s#270). My topic will be how I moved from an adjuncting job to an alternative academic position and how this moved changed my ideas of a career in academia.

If you are not present at MLA, please follow along via Twitter! You can check out the #MLA13 hashtag, but if you’re interested in a particular session from the ones below, you can also search on Twitter for the session number during its scheduled time. You can also check out the conference action by following the official Sounding Out! twitter account (commandeered by our Editor-in-Chief) or following my personal account, @literarychica, for our live-tweets from MLA 2013.

Please comment to let us know what you think–both before and after MLA 2012.  If I somehow missed you or your panel in this round up, please let me know!: lms@soundingoutblog.com


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

Jump to THURSDAY, January 3
Jump to FRIDAY, January 4
Jump to SATURDAY, January 5
Jump to SUNDAY, January 6.

“A Chilly Night in Boston” by Flickr user Stuck in Customs under a Creative Commons 2.0 License

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THURSDAY, January 3

Thursday, January 3

 

8:30–11:30 a.m.

.3.  Evaluating Digital Work for Tenure and Promotion: A Workshop for Evaluators and Candidates

Republic A, Sheraton

Program arranged by the MLA Office of Programs. Presiding: Alison Byerly, Middlebury Coll.; Kathleen Fitzpatrick, MLA; Katherine A. Rowe, Bryn Mawr Coll.

Facilitated discussion about evaluating work in digital media (e.g., scholarly
editions, databases, digital mapping projects, born- digital creative or scholarly
work). Designed for both creators of digital materials and administrators
or colleagues who evaluate those materials, the workshop will propose
strategies for documenting, presenting, and evaluating such work.

Preregistration required.

 

12:00-1:15

 

22. Expanding Access: Building Bridges within Digital Humanities

205, Hynes

A special session.

Presiding: Trent M. Kays, Univ. of Minnesota, Twin Cities; Lee Skallerup Bessette, Morehead State Univ.

Marc Fortin, Queen’s Univ.

Alexander Gil, Univ. of Virginia

Brian Larson, Univ. of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Sophie Marcotte, Concordia Univ.

Ernesto Priego, London, England

 

36. Languages of the Occupy Movement

307, Hynes

Program arranged by the Division on Language and Society. Presiding: Frank Farmer, Univ. of Kansas

Corinne Seals, Georgetown Univ., “Examining the Linguistic Landscape of Occupy”

Corey J. Frost, New Jersey City Univ.,  “Occupy and Rhetorics of Amplification”

Keith Spencer, Carnegie Mellon Univ., “Class, Race, and the ‘Common Man’: Interviews with Occupy Pittsburgh”

Respondent: Frank Farmer

 

40. Hearing and Seeing Anew: Ralph Ellison’s Aural and Visual ;8Registers

Beacon A, Sheraton

A special session. Presiding: Horace Porter, Univ. of Iowa

Shanna Greene Benjamin, Grinnell Coll. “Listening inside a Glass Box: Mary Rambo’s Lessons for Invisible Man

Herman Beavers, Univ. of Pennsylvania, “The Noisy Lostness: Oppositionality and Acousmatic Subjectivity in Invisible Man

Lena Michelle Hill, Univ. of Iowa, “Silent Sights of Fatherhood in Three Days before the Shooting…”

Respondent: Kenneth W. Warren, Univ. of Chicago

 

3:30–4:45 p.m

 

94. Modernism and the Senses

Beacon D, Sheraton

A special session. Presiding: Alex Niven, Univ. of Oxford; Stephen Ross, Univ. of Oxford, Saint John’s Coll.

Jonathan Day, Univ. of Oxford, Saint John’s Coll. “Cognitive Realism and the Problem of Qualia”

Matt Langione, Univ. of California, Berkeley, “Modernizing Modernism: Intentionality, Neuroscience, and the Sense of Modernist Poetry”

 

97. American Linguistic Plurality

203, Hynes

Program arranged by the Discussion Group on Literature of the United States in Languages Other Than English. Presiding: Heidi Kathleen Kim,Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Audrey Wu Clark,United States Naval Acad., “Dialects of Regionalist Modernism in Sui Sin Far’s Mrs. Spring Fragrance

Benjamin A. Railton, Fitchburg State Univ., “Vocal Color: Recovering an Alternative, Multilingual American Literary Realism”

Osvaldo Oyola, Binghamton Univ., State Univ. of New York, “Traduciendo de el Dork: Cultural and Lingual Syncretism in Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,”

Melissa Dennihy, Graduate Center, City Univ. of New York “Hybrid Tongues: Linguistic Innovations and Inventions in Contemporary Multiethnic United States Literature”

 

102. Digital Diasporas

Public Garden, Sheraton

Program arranged by the Division on Black American Literature and Culture. Presiding: Shelley Fisher Fishkin, Stanford Univ.

Corrie Claiborne, Morehouse Coll., “Living Word”

Adam Banks, Univ. of Kentucky, “Digital Griots”

Marcyliena Morgan, Harvard Univ., “Hip- Hop Archives”

 

107. The Linguistic Construction of Narrative Space

313, Hynes

Program arranged by the Division on Linguistic Approaches to Literature. Presiding: Monika Fludernik, Univ. of Freiburg

Robert Troyer, Western Oregon Univ., “Locating Action in the Postapocalyptic Text World of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road

Birgitta Svensson, Stockholm Univ., “Acting, Being, Sensing, and Saying: Analyzing Characters with a Functional Language Approach,”

Pauline Bleuse, Grand Valley State Univ., “Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange; or, The Use of an Unfamiliar Language to Relate Controversy”

 

5:15–6:30 p.m.

 

125. Translating for (and from) the Italian Screen: Dubbing and Subtitles

201, Hynes

Program arranged by the American Association for Italian Studies. Presiding: Philip Balma, Univ. of Connecticut, Storrs

Anna Belladelli, Univ. of Verona, “Misrepresentations and Re- representations of Otherness in the Italian Dubbing of United States TV Series,”

Giulia Centineo, Univ. of California, Santa Cruz “Dubbing Hollywood and Difference,”

Daniele Fioretti, Miami Univ., Oxford, “Qualunquista Equals Socialist? Political Issues in the Subtitling of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s La ricotta,”

 

129. Teaching in the Shallows: Reading, Writing, and Teaching in the Digital Age
Berkeley, Sheraton

A special session. Presiding: Robert R. Bleil, Coll. of Coastal Georgia; Jennifer Gray, Coll. of Coastal Georgia.

Speakers: Susan Cook, Southern New Hampshire Univ.; Christopher Dickman, Saint Louis Univ.; T. Geiger, Syracuse Univ.; Jennifer Gray; Matthew Parfitt, Boston Univ.; James Sanchez, Texas Christian Univ.

Respondent: Robert R. Bleil

Nicholas Carr’s 2008 article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” and his 2010 book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains argue that the paradigms of our digital lives have shifted significantly in two decades of living life online. This roundtable unites teachers of composition and literature to explore cultural, psychological, and developmental changes for students and teachers.

 

140. Illness and Disability in Asian American Literature

Hampton, Sheraton

Program arranged by the Division on Asian American Literature. Presiding: Anita Mannur, Miami Univ., Oxford

Cynthia Wu, Univ. at Buffalo, State Univ. of New York, “Daniel K. Inouye’s Journey to Washington: Disability and the Hidden Privileges of Local Japanese Ascendancy in Hawai‘i,”

Ellen Samuels, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, “Multilinguality and ‘Deaf Speech’ in Betty Quan’s Mother Tongue,”

Rick H. Lee, Rutgers Univ., New Brunswick, “SIN, HIV, SFO: AIDS, the Body, and Justin Chin’s Corpus,”

James Kyung-Jin Lee, Univ. of California, Irvine, “Against Asian American Health: Vibrant Secularities and Medical Narratives of Illness”

 

142. What’s Place Got to Do with It? Voices and Vision in Midwestern Literature

Beacon G, Sheraton

Program arranged by the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature. Presiding: Marilyn Judith Atlas, Ohio Univ., Athens

Andy Oler, Indiana Univ., Bloomington, “‘High and Fervently They Were Singing’: Voice, Space, and Midwestern Modernity in Langston Hughes’s 1930 Novel Not without Laughter

Alexander Engebretson, Graduate Center, City Univ. of New York, “The Midwest Seen New Englandly: Regional Tensions in Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead

James Alfred Lewin, Shepherd Univ., “Sara Paretsky’s ‘Other’ Chicago”

 

7:00–8:15 p.m.

 

152. Political Trauma and Literary Alchemy: Testimonios and the Regenerative Power of Language

202, Hynes

A special session. Presiding: Jennifer Browdy De Hernandez, Bard Coll. at Simon’s Rock

Speakers: Nicole Caso, Bard Coll.; Martha Helena Montoya Velez, Universidad Autónoma de la Ciudad de México; Alicia Partnoy, Loyola Marymount Univ.; Maria del Carmen Sillato, Univ. of Waterloo; Y. L. Mariela Wong, Coll. of Mount Saint Vincent

To mark the fortieth anniversary of the Pinochet coup in Chile and nearly forty years since the military takeover in Argentina, this session features three Southern Cone testimonialists, who will read passages from their works, and three respondents, who will lead a discussion on the power of narrative to resist a legacy of violence and fear. For excerpts from the three testimonials, visit bethechange2012.wordpress.com/mla-2013-testimonios.

 

155. Movements, Incantations, and Parables of Queer Performance

201, Hynes

A special session. Presiding: Ann Pellegrini, New York Univ.

Sean Edgecomb, Univ. of Queensland, “Queer Movement: The Mystique of Alexander Guerra’s Traveling Rabbit”

Eng- Beng Lim, Brown Univ., “Incantatory Pinkness from Singapore to Utah”

Carrie J. Preston, Boston Univ., “Queer Christian Submission in Drag: Benjamin Britten and William Plomer’s Curlew River

165. Beyond the PDF: Experiments in Open-Access Scholarly Publishing

Hampton, Sheraton

A special session

Speakers: Douglas M. Armato, Univ. of Minnesota Press; Jamie Skye Bianco, Univ. of Pittsburgh; Matthew K. Gold, New York City Coll. of Tech., City Univ. of New York; Jennifer Laherty, Indiana Univ., Bloomington; Monica McCormick, New York Univ.; Katie Rawson, Emory Univ.

As open- access scholarly publishing matures and movements such as the Elsevier boycott continue to grow, open- access publications have begun to move beyond the simple (but crucial) principle of openness toward an ideal of interactivity. This session will explore innovative examples of open-access scholarly publishing that showcase new types of social, interactive, mixed- media texts.

For abstracts and discussion, visit beyondthepdf.wordpress.com/ after 1 Nov.

 

167. Digital Humanities and Theory

Riverway, Sheraton

A special session. Presiding: Stefano Franchi, Texas A&M Univ., College Station

Geoffrey Rockwell, Univ. of Alberta, “Theoretical Things for the Humanities”

Stefano Franchi, “From Artificial Intelligence to Artistic Practices: A New Theoretical Model for the Digital Humanities,”

David Washington, Loyola Univ., New Orleans, “Object- Oriented Ontology: Escaping the Title of the Book”

For abstracts, visit dhcommons.tamu.edu.

 

177. Hybridity and Multilingualism in Yiddish

308, Hynes

Program arranged by the Discussion Group on Yiddish Literature. Presiding: Sarah Ponichtera, Columbia Univ.

Ken Frieden, Syracuse Univ., “Mysticism and Its Discontents: Hasidic and Anti- Hasidic Narratives between Hebrew and Yiddish”

Nikki Halpern, Université Paris Diderot 7, “Memory Palace, Yiddish Ghetto (Isaac Bashevis Singer and That Vexatious Yiddish Identity)”

Saul Zaritt, Jewish Theological Seminary, “The Master from Krochmalna Street: Isaac Bashevis Singer and World Literature,”

“Boston Custom House Tower at Night” by Flickr user Manu_H under Creative Commons 2.0 License

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Friday, January 4

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FRIDAY, JANUARY 4
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8:30–9:45 a.m.

 

204. Theorizing Indigenous Literatures in Latin America

303, Hynes

A special session. Presiding: Kelly S. McDonough, Univ. of Texas, Austin

Ulises Juan Zevallos-Aguilar, Ohio State Univ., Columbus, “Diglossia and Linguistic Registers: Toward a Sociolinguistic Reading of Peruvian Quechua Literature/ Hacia una lectura sociolingüística de la literatura quechua peruana”

Susan Foote, Univ. of Concepción, Chile, “Mapuche Testimony and Poetry in Chile: Poetic and Prose Discourse over Time”

Adam Coon, Univ. of Texas, Austin, “Icnotlahtolli / Migrant Words: Indigenous Theoretical Approaches to Migration in Contemporary Nahua Literature”

Ramsey Tracy, Trinity Coll., CT, “Indigenous Narrative from Oral Performance to Text: Semantic and Structural Aesthetic Concerns as Applied to the Work of Literary Translation”

 

209. Humanities in the Twenty- First Century: Innovation in Research and Practice

Commonwealth, Sheraton

Program arranged by the Division on Teaching as a Profession. Presiding: Christine Henseler, Union Coll., NY

Lynn Pasquerella, Mount Holyoke Coll., “The Promise of Humanities Practice”

David Theo Goldberg, Univ. of California, Irvine, “Making the Humanities ‘Count’”

Jane Aikin, National Endowment for the Humanities, “The National Endowment for the Humanities”

Christine Henseler, “The Humanities in the Digital Age”

 

220. Image, Voice, Text: Canadian Literature

Beacon D, Sheraton

Program arranged by the Discussion Group on Canadian Literature in English. Presiding: Sophie McCall, Simon Fraser Univ., Burnaby

Sunny Chan, Univ. of British Columbia, “AvantGarde.ca: Toward a Canadian Alienethnic Poetics of the Internet”

Hannah McGregor, Univ. of Guelph, “Intermedial Witnessing in Karen Connelly’s Burmese Lessons

Sarah Henzi, Univ. of Montreal, “Aboriginal New Media: Alternative Forms of Storytelling”

For abstracts, write to smccall@sfu.ca after 15 Nov.

 

10:15–11:30 a.m.

 

223. “Spanglish” and Identity within and outside the Classroom

206, Hynes

Program arranged by the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese. Presiding: Domnita Dumitrescu, California State Univ., Los Angeles

Robert Train, Sonoma State Univ., “Becoming Bilingual, Becoming Ourselves: Archival Memories of Spanglish in Early Californian Epistolary Texts”

Jorgelina Fidia Corbatta, Wayne State Univ., “Gloria Anzaldúa’s Discourse as a Mestiza and Queer Writer”

Ana Sánchez-Muñoz, California State Univ., Northridge, “‘Who soy yo?’: The Creative Use of Spanglish to Express a Hybrid Identity in Chicano/a Heritage Language Learners of Spanish”

Regan Postma, Albertson Coll. of Idaho, “‘¿Por qué leemos esto en la clase de español?’: The Politics of Teaching Literature in Spanglish”

 

236. Representations of Cultural Resistance: Deafness and Power

Hampton, Sheraton

A special session. Presiding: Rebecca Garden, Upstate Medical Univ., State Univ. of New York

Christopher Becker Krentz, Univ. of Virginia, “Deaf Literature, Medicine, and the Paradoxes of Identity”

Rebecca Garden, “Reproducing Deafness: Visual Culture and Pathology”

Lennard J. Davis, Univ. of Illinois, Chicago, “Cochlear Wars: Deaf Culture against Science?”

 

237. Access to What? A Roundtable on Public Scholarship, Community Engagement, and Diversity

Fairfax A, Sheraton

A special session. Presiding: Bruce Burgett, Univ. of Washington, Bothell

Speakers: Jodi Melamed, Marquette Univ.; Ifeoma C. K. Nwankwo, Vanderbilt Univ.; Imani Perry, Princeton Univ.; Chandan Reddy, Univ. of Washington, Seattle; Doris Sommer, Harvard Univ.

Respondent: Gregory S. Jay, Univ. of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Questions of access in higher education most often focus on who gets in, who is left out, and how the sorting of life chances plays out across the larger institutional landscape. (is roundtable shifts that conversation by linking the question of “Access for whom?” to the equally pressing issue of “Access to what?”

 

239. Representing Race: Silence in the Digital Humanities

Gardner, Sheraton

A special session. Presiding: Adeline Koh, Richard Stockton Coll. of New Jersey

Speakers: Moya Bailey, Emory Univ.; Anne Cong-Huyen, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara; Hussein Keshani, Univ. of British Columbia; Maria Velazquez, Univ. of Maryland, College Park

Respondent: Alondra Nelson, Columbia Univ.

This panel examines the politics of race, ethnicity, and silence in the digital humanities. How has the digital humanities remained silent on issues of race and ethnicity? How does this silence reinforce unspoken assumptions and doxa? What is the function of racialized silences in digital archival projects?

For links and participant biographies, visit www.adelinekoh .org/ blog/2012/04/02/racend/.

 

12:00-1:15 pm

 

270. How Did I Get Here? Our “Altac” Jobs

Back Bay B, Sheraton

A special session. Presiding: Brenda Bethman, Univ. of Missouri, Kansas City

Speakers: Donna M. Bickford, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Brian Croxall, Emory Univ.; Kathryn Linder, Suffolk Univ.; Liana Silva, Univ. of Kansas; Sarah Werner, Folger Shakespeare Library

Respondent: C. Shaun Longstreet, Marquette Univ.

This roundtable features “alternative academics” who will discuss the paths to their “altac” job, including opportunities and challenges that come with altac positions, strategies universities might employ to maximize and leverage PhD- prepared administrators, preparing graduate students for altac jobs, the role of mentoring, and differences between altac, adjunct, and tenure- track jobs.

For a longer description of the panel and panelists’ bios, see bit.ly/JqjHdj

 

1:30–3:30 p.m.

 

295. Getting Funded in the Humanities: An NEH Workshop

210, Hynes

Program arranged by the Office of the Executive Director. Presiding: Jason+C. Rhody, National Endowment for the Humanities

This workshop will highlight recent awards and outline current funding opportunities. In addition to emphasizing grant programs that support individual and collaborative research and education, the workshop will include information on the NEH’s Office of Digital Humanities. A question-and-answer period will follow.

 

1:45–3:30 p.m.

 

296. Tuning In to the Phoneme: Phonetic and Phonological Nuances in Second Language Acquisition

306, Hynes

A forum arranged by the Linguistic Society of America and the MLA. Presiding: Bryan Kirschen, Univ. of California, Los Angeles

Christine Shea, Univ. of Iowa, “Orthography Modulates Phonological Activation in a Second Language”

Jane Hacking, Univ. of Utah; Rachel Hayes- Harb, Univ. of Utah, “Orthographic and Auditory Contributions to Second- Language Word Learning: Native English Speakers Learning Russian Lexical Stress”

Polina Vasiliev, Univ. of California, Los Angeles, “Native English Speakers’ Perception of Spanish and Portuguese Vowels: The Initial State of L2 Acquisition”

Viola Miglio, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara; Eva Wheeler, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara, “Pronunciation of Basque as L2 by American English Native Speakers: Problems and L1 Interference”

The difficulties L2 learners have in perceiving and producing target- language sounds accurately manifest themselves in the perception and production of vowels, consonants, and suprasegmental features like intonation and stress, as well as in word recognition. Each presentation brings a different perspective on these issues, demonstrating a variety of means and methodologies available in exploring such themes.

For further details, visit www .linguisticsociety .org/meetings-institutes/ annual-meetings/2013.

 

3:30–4:45 p.m.

 

343. All Ears: Listening as a Way of Understanding Literature

Independence East, Sheraton

A special session. Presiding: Chiara Alfano, Univ. of Sussex

Speakers: David Ben- Merre, State Univ. of New York, Buffalo State Coll.; Paul Gordon, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder; May Peckham, Washington Univ. in St. Louis; Jessica Teague, Columbia Univ.

This roundtable seeks to start a discussion on the interface between accounts of listening to literature and listening as reading literature. Although the specific focus will be on literature and theory of the twentieth century, the roundtable will resonate with all who are interested in learning to read with their ears.

 

350. Puerto Rican Print Cultures

208, Hynes

Program arranged by the Discussion Group on Puerto Rican Literature and Culture. Presiding: Tomás Urayoán Noel, Univ. at Albany, State Univ. of New York

Kahlil Chaar-Pérez, Harvard Univ., “Letters of Bondage: Blackface and the Merengue Craze in El Ponceño, 1852– 54”

Anne Garland Mahler, Emory Univ., “The Linguistic Politics of Piri Thomas: African American Vernacular English and Racial Discourse in Down These Mean Streets

Juan Rodriguez, Georgia Inst. of Tech., “Poesía, imagen y tecnología en Rizoma de Áurea María Sotomayor”

Respondent: Rubén Ríos Ávila, Univ. of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras

 

353. Avenues of Access: Digital Humanities and the Future of Scholarly Communication

Republic Ballroom, Sheraton

A linked session arranged in conjunction with The Presidential Forum: Avenues of Access (112).

Presiding: Michael Bérubé, Penn State Univ., University Park

Matthew Kirschenbaum, Univ. of Maryland, College Park, “The Mirror and the LAMP”

Cathy N. Davidson, Duke Univ., “Access Demands a Paradigm Shift”

Bethany Nowviskie, Univ. of Virginia, “Resistance in the Materials”

The news that digital humanities are the next big thing must come as a pleasant surprise to people who have been working in the field for decades. Yet only recently has the scholarly community at large realized that developments in new media have implications not only for the form but also for the content of scholarly communication. This session will explore some of those implications—for scholars, for libraries, for journals, and for the idea of intellectual property.

 

363. African Testimonial Literature

209, Hynes

Program arranged by the Division on African Literatures. Presiding: Joya F. Uraizee, Saint Louis Univ.

Kimberly Nance, Illinois State Univ., “‘Use Beginning, Middle, and End’: Testimonial Narrative as Reintegrative Therapy in Delia Jarrett- Macauley’s Moses, Citizen and Me

Tamara Moellenberg, Univ. of Oxford, Brasenose Coll., “New Lacunae: Silence and the Child Soldier”

James D. B. McCorkle, Hobart and William Smith Colls., “In the Shadow of Rwanda: Boubacar Boris Diop, Tierno Monénembo, and Véronique Tadjo and the Literature of Testimony”

Jessica Roberts, Queen’s Univ., “Contested Testimonials: Child Soldier Memoirs”

 

5:15–6:30 p.m.

 

399. Term Limits: The Language of the Presidential Campaign

Commonwealth, Sheraton

Program arranged by the Division on Language and Society. Presiding: Bruce W. Robbins, Columbia Univ.

Speakers: David Bromwich, Yale Univ.; Donald E. Pease, Dartmouth Coll.; Hortense Jeanette Spillers, Vanderbilt Univ.

Three perspectives by distinguished scholars on the language used by the candidates in the 2012 presidential campaign.

“Boston Sunset” by Flickr user bettlebrox under Creative Commons 2.0 License

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SATURDAY, January 5

SATURDAY, January 5

 

8:30–9:45 a.m.

 

432. Aural Literature and Close Listening

Beacon H, Sheraton

A special session. Presiding: Michelle Nancy Levy, Simon Fraser Univ., Burnaby

Matthew Rubery, Univ. of London, Queen Mary Coll. “The Case against Audiobooks”

Cornelius Collins, Fordham Univ., Bronx, “Aural Literacy in a Visual Era: Is Anyone Listening?”

Justin St. Clair, Univ. of South Alabama, “Novel Sound Tracks and the Future of Hybridized Reading”

Lisa A. Hollenbach, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, “Poetry as MP3: PennSound, Poetry Recording, and the New Digital Archive”

For abstracts, write to mnl@sfu.ca

 

442. Reading Aloud to Revise: Exploring the Role of Intonation in Silent Written Language

Fairfax B, Sheraton

A special session. Presiding: Peter Elbow, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst

Reading aloud to revise is a celebrated practice, but it is too little taught as a concrete skill and too little analyzed from a linguistic point of view. In this workshop, participants will explore this valuable teaching technique. We will work on sample passages by reading them aloud with attention to rhythm and sound and will analyze the linguistics of intonation to show why the tongue is a reliable guide to strong clear prose.

For two chapters from Elbow’s recent book, write to elbow@english.umass.edu.

 

12:00 noon–1:15 p.m.

 

497. Redefining the “Fossilized” Language of the Twenty- First Century

201, Hynes

Program arranged by the Discussion Group on General Linguistics. Presiding: Marnie Jo Petray, California Polytechnic State Univ., San Luis Obispo

Bryan Kirschen, Univ. of California, Los Angeles, “Contemporary Linguistic Features of ‘Cervantine’ Judeo- Spanish”

Nassima Neggaz, Georgetown Univ., “Syria’s Arab Spring: Language Enrichment in the Midst of Revolution”

Covadonga Lamar Prieto, Univ. of California, Riverside, “Fossilized Features in 1:45–3:00 p.m.Contemporary California Spanish and Their Relation with Historical California Spanish”

 

1:45–3:00 p.m.

 

539. Gendered Blues Subjectivities and Racial Politics across Southern History

Beacon F, Sheraton

A special session. Presiding: Adam Gussow, Univ. of Mississippi

Adam Gussow, “Thee Devil’s Son-in- Law: Blues Masculinity, Interracial Sexuality, and the Infrapolitics of Jim Crow”

Courtney George, Columbus State Univ., “‘What Would the Music Be Like?’: Revolutionary Music in Alice Walker’s Meridian

Nicholas Gorrell, Univ. of Mississippi, “‘If Your Heart Been Broken, Call on the Handy Man’: Female Sexuality and Revisionist Masculinities in Contemporary Southern Soul-Blues”

Respondent: R. A. Lawson, Dean Coll.

For abstracts, write to ngorrell@olemiss.edu after 15 Nov.

 

546. Taste, Touch, Hear: Race, Science, and the Senses in the Nineteenth Century

Beacon A, Sheraton

A special session. Presiding: Kyla Wazana Tompkins, Pomona Coll.

Uri McMillan, Univ. of California, Los Angeles, “An Echo across Centuries: Joice Heth’s Sonic of Dissent”

Kyla Schuller, Rutgers Univ., New Brunswick, “Touching Time: Frances E.W. Harper’s Evolutionary Aesthetics”

Kyla Wazana Tompkins, “Lifestyle Eugenics: Joel Chandler Harris and the Birth of Victim Citizenship”

 

550. The Classroom as Interface

Hampton, Sheraton

A special session. Presiding: Kathi Inman Berens, Univ. of Southern California

Elizabeth Mathews Losh, Univ. of California, San Diego, “The Campus as Interface: Screening the University”

Jason Farman, Univ. of Maryland, College Park, “Being Distracted in the Digital Age”

Kathi Inman Berens, “Virtual Classroom Software: A Medium-Specific Analysis”

Leeann Hunter, Georgia Inst. of Tech., “The Multisensory Classroom”

 

566. Wonder and Marvel in Cross- Cultural Encounter

207, Hynes

Program arranged by the Discussion Group on Romance Literary Relations. Presiding: Lynn Ramey, Vanderbilt Univ.

Paula Park, Univ. of Texas, Austin, “The Utopian Impulse to Archive New Sounds in Alejo Carpentier’s The Lost Steps

Laure M. Marcellesi, Dartmouth Coll., “Sexual Misunderstandings: First European Encounters with Tahiti”

Danielle Carlotti-Smith, Univ. of Virginia, “Le choc avec le réel: Intertextual Encounters in the French West Indies”

For abstracts, visit my.vanderbilt .edu/lynnramey/mla2013/.

 

569. One Hundred Years of The Rite of Spring

305, Hynes

Program arranged by the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages. Presiding: Rebecca Jane Stanton, Barnard Coll.

Francoise Rosset, Wheaton Coll., MA, “The Rite of Spring: Roerich’s Pagan Past”

Marilyn Sizer, Seattle, WA, “The Rite of Spring: Stravinsky’s Mysterium”

Carol Rowntree Jones, Nottingham, England, “The Rite of Spring: Pina Bausch; Danger; and a Woman, Writing”

Respondent: Harlow L. Robinson, Northeastern Univ.

For abstracts, visit http://mlaslavic2013.blogspot.com/.

 

3:30–4:45 p.m.

 

577. Science and Technology in Afro-Modern Literature

Beacon D, Sheraton

A special session. Presiding: Marques Redd, Marquette Univ.

Marques Redd, “The Technology of the Ancient Egyptian Future: The Cosmic Poetry of Sun Ra”

Zakiyyah Jackson, Univ. of Virginia, “The Future Is a Parasite: Octavia Butler and Posthumanism”

Beth M. Coleman, Harvard Univ., “Race as Technology: Ideologies and Literatures of ‘ Post- Race’ Identity”

 

583. Intellectual and Cognitive Disability Studies

Beacon F, Sheraton

A special session. Presiding: John N. Allen, Milwaukee Area Technical Coll.

Sarah Pett, Univ. of York, “‘Aphasia’s Fingerprints’: Language Impairment, Autobiography, and Fiction in Paul West’s The Shadow Factory

Michelle Jarman, Univ. of Wyoming, “The Savant and the Silent Subject: Challenging the Hierarchy of the Autism Spectrum”

John N. Allen, “The Reception of The Memory Keeper’s Daughter and the Discourse of Down Syndrome”

 

588. Race and Poetics: On Aesthetic Practice in Ethnic Studies

Beacon A, Sheraton

A special session. Presiding: Nathan Grant, Saint Louis Univ.

Speakers: John Alba Cutler, Northwestern Univ.; Samantha Pinto, Georgetown Univ.; Libbie Ri-in, Georgetown Univ.; Jennifer Stoever- Ackerman, Binghamton Univ., State Univ. of New York

Respondent: Kandice Chuh, Graduate Center, City Univ. of New York

This roundtable will consider cultural forms of difference across a range of genres, including the lyric, collaborative authorship, and radio. We will focus on how aesthetics shifts some of the major tenants of ethnic studies, looking at major as well as neglected authors across African American, Latino/a, Asian American, and anglophone postcolonial studies.

 

5:15-6:30 pm

 

616. Poetic Occupations: From the Great Depression to the “Great Recession”

Independence East, Sheraton

A special session. Presiding: Sarah Ehlers, Univ. of South Dakota

John Marsh, Penn State Univ., University Park, “Percentile Poetics and Distributive Justice”

Sarah Ehlers, “‘The Left Needs Rhythm’: Poetry Speaks the Depression”

Paula Rabinowitz, Univ. of Minnesota, Twin Cities, “Class Ventriloquism: Women’s Letters, Lectures, Lyrics”

 

621. Reading, Reading Machines, and Machine Reading

Gardner, Sheraton

Program arranged by the Discussion Group on Media and Literature. Presiding: Jessica Pressman, American Council of Learned Socs.

Matthew Rubery, Univ. of London, Queen Mary Coll., “Phonographic Reading Machines”

Katherine Wilson, Alelphi Univ., “Mechanical Mediations of Miniature Text: Reading Microform”

Mara Mills, New York Univ., “Between Human and Machine, a Printed Sheet: (e Early History of OCR (Optical Character Recognition)”

 

631. Literary Theory and American Sign Language Literature

Hampton, Sheraton

Program arranged by the MLA Committee on Disability Issues in the Profession. Presiding: Jill Marie Bradbury, Gallaudet Univ.

Rebecca Terese Sanchez, Fordham Univ., Bronx, “‘Human Bodies Are Words’: The Poetics of Deaf Voice”

“The Gaze: Film Studies and the Flying Words Project,” Pamela Kincheloe, Rochester Inst. of Tech.

“ASL Protest Poetry and Refashioning the Traditional Oral Epic,” Kristen%C. Harmon, Gallaudet Univ.

 

639. Two Tools for Student- Generated Digital Projects: WordPress and Omeka in the Classroom

Back Bay B, Sheraton

A special session. Presiding: Gabrielle Dean, Johns Hopkins Univ., MD

Speakers: Amanda L. French, George Mason Univ.; George Williams, Univ. of South Carolina, Spartanburg

This “master class” will focus on integrating two digital tools into the classroom to facilitate studentgenerated projects: Omeka, for the creation of archives and exhibits, and WordPress, for the creation of blogs and Web sites. We will discuss what kinds of assignments work with each tool, how to get started, and how to evaluate assignments. Bring a laptop (not a tablet) for hands- on work.

“060701boylston1″ by Flickr user Dan4th under Creative Commons 2.0 License. In the background is the Hynes Convention Center

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SUNDAY, January 6

Sunday, January 6

 

8:30–9:45 a.m.

 

692. Baroque Forces

303, Hynes

Program arranged by the Division on Colonial Latin American Literatures. Presiding: Anna H. More, Univ. of California, Los Angeles

Ivonne del Valle, Univ. of California, Berkeley, “Colonial Baroque: Violence as History”

Lisa Voigt, Ohio State Univ., Columbus, “Festive Forces in Potosí”

José Francisco Robles, El Colegio de México, “Sigüenza y Vico”

Rachel Spaulding, Univ. of New Mexico, Albuquerque, “The Baroque Voice: Syncretic Afro- Catholic Performance and Power in the Visions of Early Modern Brazil’s Rosa Maria Egipçiaca”

 

693. Theorizing Digital Practice, Practicing Digital Theory

Liberty A, Sheraton

Program arranged by the MLA Committee on Information Technology. Presiding: Victoria E. Szabo, Duke Univ.

Tanya E. Clement, Univ. of Texas, Austin, “What Text Mining and Visualizations Have to Do with Feminist Scholarly Inquiries”

Dana Solomon, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara, “Building the Infrastructural Layer: Reading Data Visualization in the Digital Humanities”

Stephanie Boluk, Vassar Coll., “What Should We Do with Our Games?”

Respondent: Victoria E. Szabo

For abstracts, visit people.duke.edu/~ves4/mla13/.

 

10:15–11:30 a.m.

 

698. Intonation and Poetic Convention

Dalton, Sheraton

A special session. Presiding: Natalie E. Gerber, State Univ. of New York, Fredonia; Benjamin Glaser, Skidmore Coll.

Benjamin Glaser, “Libraries of Rhythm”

Thomas Cable, Univ. of Texas, Austin, “When Free Verse Is Not Free Enough”

Steve Willard, Univ. of California, San Diego “Suffused Selves: Intertextual Poetics, Intonation, and Prosody,”

Respondent: Natalie E. Gerber

For abstracts, write to gerber@ fredonia.edu.

 

700. May 4 Voices: Teaching about the 1970 Kent State Shootings through Oral History and Drama

Back Bay A, Sheraton

A special session. Presiding: Robert Balla, Univ. of Akron

Speakers: Robert Balla; Kenneth Bindas, Kent State Univ., Kent; Katherine Burke, Theatre of the Oppressed, Inc.; David Hassler, Kent State Univ., Kent

Roundtable discussion of May 4 Voices, an oral history play about the Kent State student shootings of 1970. The session will explore the play’s usefulness in multiple pedagogical settings. Panelists will describe their experiences with May 4 Voices in diverse disciplines and elicit audience responses, along with ideas for incorporating the play into humanities curricula.

 

701. Trauma, Affect, and Genre in African American Culture

Riverway, Sheraton

A special session. Presiding: Cherise Smith, Univ. of Texas, Austin

Speakers: Stephanie Batiste, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara; Sonnet Retman, Univ. of Washington, Seattle; Christina Sharpe, Tufts Univ.; Cherise Smith; Lisa Thompson, Univ. of Austin

In this roundtable, we turn to a range of cultural media, from plays and photographs to novels and musicals, to explore the ways that various African American artists historicize and politicize racial trauma through the innovative use of genre and its affective possibilities.

 

702. South Asian- izing the Digital Humanities

209, Hynes

A special session. Presiding: Rahul Gairola, Univ. of Washington, Seattle

Suchismita Banerjee, Univ. of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, “Creating Alternate Voices: Exploring South Asian Cyberfeminism”

Waseem Anwar, Forman Christian Coll., “Digitizing Pakistani Literary Forms; or, E/Merging the Transcultural”

Rashmi Bhatnagar, Univ. of Pittsburgh“Reimagining Aesthetic Education: Digital Humanities in the Global South”

Respondent: Amritjit Singh, Ohio Univ., Athens

For abstracts, write to rgairola@uw.edu after 1 Dec 2012.

 

708. Victorian Oral Culture, circa 1861–1901

Public Garden, Sheraton

A special session. Presiding: Anne Zwierlein, Univ. of Regensburg

John Plunkett, Univ. of Exeter, “Ways with Words: Peepshows, Panoramas, and the Showman- Lecturer”

Janice Schroeder, Carleton Univ., “The Schooled Voice: Sound and Sense in the Reports of the School Inspectorate”

John M. Picker, Massachusetts Inst. of Tech., “Siri Love, circa 1900: Voice Engine Fictions in the Age of Synergy”

For abstracts, visit www.uni-regensburg.de/sprache-literatur-kultur/anglistik/staff/zwierlein/index.html

 

715. Philip Roth’s Music

Liberty B, Sheraton

A special session. Presiding: Aimee Lynn Pozorski, Central Connecticut State Univ.

Ira Nadel, Univ. of British Columbia, “Philip Roth and the Music of Seduction”

Aimee Lynn Pozorski, “Nationalism, Lyricism, and Self- Loathing in I Married a Communist and Indignation

Matthew Shipe, Washington Univ. in St. Louis, “Dream a Little Dream: Music as Counternarrative in Philip Roth’s Late Fiction”

Respondent: B. Jane Statlander- Slote, Miami International Univ. of Art and Design

For abstracts, visit rothsociety.org after 15 Dec.

 

1:45–3:00 p.m.

 

793. Anthropomorphism

206, Hynes

Program arranged by the Division on Comparative Studies in Romanticism and the Nineteenth Century. Presiding: Sara Guyer, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison

Helmut Heinz Müller- Sievers, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, “Making the Gestell Sing: Romantic Music Theory, Virtuoso Performance, and the Aesthetics of Machines”

Jessica Kuskey, Syracuse Univ., “Industrial Anthropomorphism and the Victorian Factory Question”

Monique Allewaert, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, “Antimorphism”

 

795. Literature and Digital Pedagogies

Fairfax A, Sheraton

A special session. Presiding: Anaïs Saint- Jude, Stanford Univ.

“Teaching Modernism Traditionally and Digitally: What We May Learn from New Digital Tutoring Models by Khan Academy and Udacity,” Petra Dierkes- Thrun, Stanford Univ.

“Digital Resources and the Medieval- Literature Classroom,” Robin Wharton, Georgia Inst. of Tech.

“Toward a New Hybrid Pedagogy: Embodiment and Learning in the Classroom 2.0,” Pete Rorabaugh, Georgia State Univ.; Jesse Stommel, Marylhurst Univ.

For abstracts, visit litilluminations.wordpress.com/ after 1 Dec.

“after hours” by Flickr user haydnseek under Creative Commons License 2.0

Blinded By the Sound: Marvel’s Dazzler – Light & Sound in Comics

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Trying to reproduce the popularity of KISS-themed comics: Marvel Super Special #5 ( 1978)

Trying to reproduce the popularity of KISS-themed comics: Marvel Super Special #5 (1978)

I recently got my hands on a complete set of Marvel Comics’ Dazzler, a comic from the early to mid-80s that featured Alison Blaire, a mutant with the power to transform sound into light. She was the result of an attempted collaboration between Marvel and Casablanca Records. The idea was that rather than publish a comic based on a pre-existing musical act (as they had in 1977 with KISS), Marvel would create a character and Casablanca would, in the words of one of the co-creators, “create someone to take on the persona,” with the potential for a movie tie-in. Casablanca dropped the project before the first issue of the comic, but Marvel re-tooled the character and went ahead with the Dazzler—a talented, yet struggling singer stuck playing at cheesy discos and small clubs while dreaming of wider success.

The last time I wrote about sound in comics, I mentioned how despite (or because of) sound’s transparency, it is an unobstrusive tool in providing the cues needed by readers to provide the closure through which comic literacy functions. The Dazzler series is not a great comic, it is often schmaltzy, repetitive and rife with errors, and just when it started to fulfill a bit of its promise, its creative team and the comic’s direction were changed and it was canceled soon after, but despite this, it is the perfect subject for looking at the representation of sound in comics. Dazzler’s power literally shines a light on how pervasive imagined sound is in this visual/textual form. It also makes room for even more sounds to be woven into the title’s narrative. Since Alison Blaire is an aspiring singer the most prevalent sound present in this title—less common in other popular super heroes titles—is music. Dan Fingeroth and Jacob Springer (who wrote the majority of Dazzler’s brief run) had many opportunities to depict a visual representation of singing.

from Dazzler #21 (Nov 1982). By Fingeroth & Springer

from Dazzler #21 (Nov 1982). By Fingeroth & Springer

The fans react to Dazzler's singing - from Dazzler #7 (August 1981), by DeFalco, Fingeroth & Springer

The fans react to Dazzler’s singing – from Dazzler #7 (August 1981), by DeFalco, Fingeroth & Springer

As a singer, Dazzler is a maker of sounds in addition to a user of the sound already present throughout the medium. As a result, in addition to the visual representation of sound through Dazzler’s glowing light show, the writers were in a position of having to use text to describe the quality of sound more often than usual for their genre. As Tom DeFalco (a co-creator and sometimes writer on the series) said in a 1980 interview with Comics Feature, “I have to put in a lot of sounds in the captions and that I hope that kids who very rarely read captions will read these so they’ll know where the sound is coming from. But the good thing about sound is that you are always surrounded by sound.” DeFalco’s answer illustrates the contradiction at the heart of comic sound—it may be ever-present, but because of this is taken for granted to such a degree that he worries that its source will not be self-evident on the comics page. He adds that one way around this, because of Dazzler‘s focus on music, is through descriptions of the audience’s reactions to it—how it makes them feel is a way to clue the readers into the source and quality of sound present in the panels.

It is the affective relationship to sound that marks Dazzler as very different from other superhero comics. All the super-villain battles and fear of the revelation of her mutant powers are merely the narrative obstacles to her primary goal and obsession—singing. In order for that work, the emotions that emerge from her performance (both for Alison and those listening) needs to be evoked (something that the comics unevenly succeeds at). The colorful lights that are often part of a stage show are, in her case, a direct result of her relationship to not only hearing/absorbing sound, but making sound. She repeatedly explains that rhythmic nature of popular music makes her powers easier to use, because she can feel its pulse. For Alison Blaire, hearing, making and using sounds are conflated by means of the visual and textual, allowing the reader to see what he cannot hear or feel. In other words, Dazzler’s conceit is most successful when it evokes an empathic connection between the reader and the imagined sounds.

Black Bolt's scream converted into light - From Dazzler #19 (Sept 1982), by Fingeroth & Springer

Black Bolt’s scream converted into light – From Dazzler #19 (Sept 1982), by Fingeroth & Springer

The feeling around sound can also be evoked through its absence. A common practice in mainstream superhero comics is the guest appearance by a popular hero in a new or poorly-selling comic in order to boost sales, and Dazzler seemed to have cameo by some better known character almost every issue. This practice allowed for writers and artists to depict what had for decades been undepictable. When Dazzler teams up with Black Bolt, King of the Inhumans (a Fantastic Four character from back in the Kirby days) he is finally allowed an opportunity to use his greatest and most feared power, his voice. Black Bolt is forever silent. His voice is so powerful a weapon that even his whisper can inadvertently kill all those around him. Thus, despite being an iconic Silver Age character, the voice of Black Bolt is one that can never be “heard” by comic readers. His silence is part of his identity and grants him a tragic and noble-bearing. As such, when he is teamed up with Dazzler, her power becomes the perfect vehicle for representing the unrepresentable sound—Dazzler absorbs the sound of his voice to emit the energy needed to defeat the super-villain. In having the characters work together, the writer was able to use one character’s power to finally represent the other’s. In this moment there is a sense of relief and emotional release, along with a sense of peril that bound to Black Bolt’s voice gives the unheard sound resonance.

Allison turns up the muzak to power her ability.  From Dazzler #8 (Oct 1981) by DeFalco, Fingeroth, Springer & Coletta

Allison turns up the muzak to power her ability. From Dazzler #8 (Oct 1981) by DeFalco, Fingeroth, Springer & Coletta

As the title continued (and after its cancellation, when Dazzler became a member of the X-Men), Alison Blaire’s powers developed in different ways, the most fascinating was the development of her hearing. While early in the character’s career she was dependent on passive hearing, often carrying a portable radio with her in order to insure she had sufficient sound with which to use her light powers, later she developed acute active listening skills. As this aspect of her power developed, it became clear that it was not necessarily the force of sounds themselves that determined the extent of her power (though clearly loud sounds could be more easily transformed into more powerful forms of light, like ultra-focused lasers), but her attentive listening. The more attention she could pay to sounds and could discern even faint sounds, the more she could absorb and transform—later she is even able to use the sounds of digging insects and worms to save herself when she is accidentally buried alive.

From Dazzler #1 (March 1981) by DeFalco & Romita, Jr.

From Dazzler #1 (March 1981) by DeFalco & Romita, Jr.

By the end of her original series, Dazzler‘s new writing team had her mostly abandon her musical ambitions and take the more common (and dare I say, more boring) comic book route of getting a costume and joining a team of liked-minded super-beings. Because of this, the character’s special relationship to sound is lost in the shuffle of convoluted continuities and cosmic crises present in the various X-titles. There is less time and attention paid to song and sound as power and its emotional weight. The abandonment of her career goals also abandons the opportunity to explore a unique representation of sound and identity in a medium where identity is writ large. However, if there is a take-away from the strange, mostly failed, collaborative experiment between comics company and records company, it is that like Alison Blaire, if the comics reader “listens” carefully to the sounds present in the text and pictures there is a potential for a lot more depth and appreciation of how sound’s depiction is crucial to comics’ formal success.

Osvaldo Oyola is a regular contributor to Sounding Out! and ABD in English at Binghamton University.

I Can’t Hear You Now, I’m Too Busy Listening: Social Conventions and Isolated Listening

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Editor’s Note: I hate to interrupt our busy readers, but I just wanted to mention that today’s post by Osvaldo Oyola marks our last entry in SO!‘s July Forum on Listening.  For the full introduction to the World Listening Month! series click here.  To peep the previous posts, click here.  Also, look for our #Blog-O-Versary 3.0 post coming up on July 27th, a multimedia celebration of three years of Sounding Out! awesomeness (complete with a free, downloadable soundtrack compiled by our editors and writers for your listening pleasure). Now for some pure, uninterrupted reading (we hope!).–JSA

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In calling attention to listening as an activity, July 18th’s World Listening Day made me think about our social conventions around listening. While it is not uncommon for folks to pay lip service to listening’s value, this ignores the variety of ways that listening is actually socially prioritized (and the multiple meanings housed in the term “listening”).  Case in point, the officiant at my recent wedding exhorted my about-to-be-wife and me to listen to each other:  “listen for what is consistent and familiar, but also for what is new, emergent, even sweetly radical in your partner.”  When used in this sense, listening refers to a focused attention to the meaning of sound, particularly language. His words suggest that our relationship would be strengthened by listening’s ability to convey interpersonal knowledge.

While listening is certainly crucial to social bonds, my own experience as a careful and engaged listener of music suggests that some of the most crucial listening we do happens as an isolated–and isolating experience–especially when listening involves recorded sound. However, its importance to our individual well being often seems directly inverse to the (lack of) seriousness other people seem to give it. Not my now-wife, of course, but uninterrupted musical listening was not an official part of our vows, either.  There is an inherent tension between social and isolated forms of listening.

Sign o’ the Times,  still my fave 25 years later.

As a teenager, for example, whatever my arguments with my mom might have really been about, a frequent instigator of a blow-up was her reaction to my annoyance when she’d interrupt my listening at her whim. I’d be sitting in my room listening in anticipation for what I have often called my favorite recorded human sound–that moment in Prince’s “Adore” on Sign o’ the Times around 2:55 (music nerd correction: on the album version it is actually at 2:48) when Prince makes a little moan before the second time he sings “crucial”–and mom would burst into the room to ask me a question, giving no heed to the stereo. I often responded to this in the same way: “If I were reading or watching TV, you’d say ‘excuse me,’ to get my attention, just like you always taught me a polite person should do. But when it is music you just go ahead and interrupt as if I weren’t doing anything, but I am doing something. I’m listening to music. It’s an activity.” (Of course, you have to imagine that response laden with all the snottiness only a teenager could muster). You would’ve thought she’d understand, since my obsessive love of music was influenced in no small part by her huge collection of salsa records, but my mom’s listening is mostly predicated on embodying the music through dance. This kind of listening is not so much about close attention to the details of the sound, but rather on a visceral reception of its physicality. Again, like listening to speech, the form of listening given to dance commonly reinforces social bonds—between dance partners, among dancers in a crowd, between dancers and DJ or band.

The kind of listening I am describing cuts us off from the immediate social world. It requires that people who want your attention must rudely interrupt your listening pleasure or ask forgiveness for the interruption. Theoretically, they could wait patiently, but this rarely happens, so the listener often feels forced to downplay the annoyance that comes along with interruption, lest they break a social bond and/or belie how important this kind of listening really is to them.

“Tuning Out” by Flickr User CarbonNYC

Of course, the ubiquity of headphones suggests that there are many people who want to be focused enough on their listening as to avoid interruption. (Though, that may be a chicken-and-the-egg situation, as I can’t help but wonder to what degree the headphones become an excuse for social disengagement.) Either way, it is noteworthy that the wearing of headphones become a visual clue for a desire to be isolated in the listening practice, even when in an otherwise public environment. If you are going to ask a stranger on subway for directions, you are less likely to choose the person with headphones on, and if you do choose to ask them, the headphones direct the form of social action required to get their attention and ask. It calls for a visual signal, like a gesture to remove the headphones, or even polite physical contact, like a tap on the shoulder—but you certainly would not pull the headphones off their ears and just start talking at them, as you might talk at someone listening to music through speakers if you happen to walk into the room. The invention of things like the Doffing Headphone handle, which allows headphone listeners to greet others by “doffing” their headphones like one used to do with a hat, arises from the need for isolated listeners to interact with the social world  even while enmeshed in their portable bubble of personal space. However, be that as it may, the handles have not exactly caught on.

Doffing Headphones

Perhaps headphones are the just the logical evolution of crafting a listening space. They are certainly much more feasible than the ‘Yogi Enclosure’ Kier Keightley discusses in his article “’Turn It down!’ She Shrieked: Gender, Domestic Space, and High Fidelity, 1948-59.”  The “Yogi enclosure” was High Fidelity magazine’s tongue-in-cheek (and highly gendered) 1954 solution to a man’s inability to enjoy his hi-fi in a space where he is likely, the article suggests,  to be harangued by his wife and annoyed by his children.  This masculinizing of listening speaks to the social contours of what is ostensibly an individual practice. In the case of my teenaged self and my mother, I wanted my 1000th listen to Dark Side of the Moon to dictate her behavior in the way that other individual activities in a shared space dictate behavior through social conventions.  Looking back, I was also trying to claim space in her home.  I never considered how as a mom she was expected to always be available, never free from interruption no matter what she was doing.  Keightley’s article demonstrates this through explaining the construction of listening technologies as a domain of men that requires women and children to be quiet in order to allow him the pleasure of his equipment.  I could imagine my right to be uninterrupted, for my listening to be taken seriously, considered a productive activity, by virtue of my gender and my youth.   While, now that I think of it, even the majority of my mom’s record-listening and salsa dancing  accompanied household chores that fierce adherence to gender roles demanded time she might have preferred to dedicate to listening alone.

Listening by Flickr User Alessandra Luvisotto

While gender politics have changed significantly since 1954, careful music listeners of any gender still seek to define the use of space through the use of sound, intentionally or unintentionally. There is a satisfaction that comes with filling a space with sound that I feel cannot be matched by even the highest quality noise-canceling headphones. Sound emerging from speakers and moving through the air creates a presence. It demands attention. It dictates behavior.  It is a kind of power.

Image by Flickr user Ken Schwatz

Another case in point: I can remember my college roommate and I (the same fellow who’d end up being the officiant at my wedding, coincidentally enough) traveling from store to store to try out different stereo speakers, carrying a CD copy of This Mortal Coil’s Filigree & Shadow and getting salesmen to play the soft sounds on tracks like “Thias (II),” as a test. These were the days before online comparison shopping, so in order to achieve this idealized listening experience–which for us meant the loudest and softest sounds were equally clear–we had to annoy salesmen with our self-important discussion of miniscule differences in sound quality and failure to actually purchase the costly speakers we were trying.

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What I am trying to convey with this anecdote is that, while the idealized listening experience we imagined was an isolated one (probably something involving staring at the glow-in-the-dark star stickers on the ceiling of our darkened dorm room), it was born of the sociality and power I mentioned above. We were exercising a form of privilege (or at least practicing for an imagined future masculine power over the domestic sphere).  This imagined idealized listening not only required a developed understanding of what we were listening for, but a shared sense of the ideal circumstances for those focused, uninterrupted, close listening sessions.  And those ideal circumstances required a freedom from the responsibilities of social bonds, that we, as young men, never doubted we could access.   There is no part of listening (as opposed to merely hearing) that isn’t social, and both isolated and more explicitly interpersonal forms of listening feed each other, but only when both are valued, nurtured, and made possible.

I thought by exploring these isolated listening experiences that I might come closer to understanding the primacy of the visual in the social etiquette of interruption, but I am no closer. Instead, I am left to consider the dynamics of power that (dis)allow that space for close listening. All I have learned about the matter since those teenaged arguments with my mom is that, if I plan to do some real listening, I either need to be alone in the house or that the onus is on me, the listener, to make an announcement: “I will be listening to music now.” Still, more often than not, I put on my headphones.   The fact remains that without the visual signals that let others know that listening is occurring–headphones, dancing–listening as a solo activity is so often devalued and interrupted. Sound alone is not enough.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I just got Jonathan Lethem’s book on Fear of Music, and I plan on closely listening to each track of the Talking Heads’ record before and after the associated chapter in Lethem’s book. Let’s hope I won’t be interrupted.

Osvaldo Oyola is a regular contributor to Sounding Out! and ABD in English at Binghamton University.

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