In his book Phonographies: Grooves in Sonic Afro-Modernity, Alexander Weheliye argues for the importance of sound reproduction technologies in the creation of a ”sonic Afro-Modernity”. Weheliye critiques Modernity’s focus on ocularcentrism and proposes instead to attune to an aural mode of being and becoming, a ”sound thinking”, which he sees emerging in black and Afro-diasporic literary and musical engagement with sound technologies. By way of Weheliye’s notion of phonography (literally: sound-writing), we want to think about issues of writing, reproduction and performance (as well as their entanglements). Phonographic re/production blurs the dichotomy of object and subject, as Fred Moten, Theodor W. Adorno and other theorists have argued. In this seminar, we want to read Weheliye’s book to investigate theories of phonography which can function as a different entry point into studying cultural and aesthetic productions (texts, sounds, music, etc.). We will primarily read Weheliye’s monograph. with the addition of some shorter texts to provide responses and context. In class, students will have to prepare short response papers and there will be plenty of space to listen to examples that illustrate or probe the theory.

Weheliye, A. G. (2005) Phonographies: Grooves in Sonic Afro-Modernity. Durham; London: Duke University Press.