The Afterlife of the Object


European Summer School in Cultural Studies

University of Copenhagen, 18-22 June 2018

An object causes passion, as in the figurative notion of a loved object. “The Afterlife of the Object” 2018 summer school will contemplate how we establish narratives of the past and the self through objects.

We will view objects, not only loved, but also hated, ignored, collected, thrown away, performed, written, rewritten, translated, lost and found. The “object” of our study will be considered broadly, including but not limited to art, books, collections, fetishes, poems, letters, song, and beyond.

For example, in “The Daughters of the Moon,” Italo Calvino imagines the afterlife of earth’s only permanent natural satellite when she has she become too old and worn to be seen as “full.” Calvino’s story is a troubling allegory on consumerism, ecology, gender, destruction and desire, written in the ripe year of 1968.

In Slaves and Other Objects (2004), the classicist Page duBois looks at our erasure of slaves as an idealization of the afterlife of ancient Greece, resulting in a collective blind-spot (a de-realization) that has fed and still feeds troubling views on race, including America’s nostalgia for the antebellum South.

Han Kang’s 1997 short story “The Fruit of My Woman” takes the afterlife of animals as objects of food as entry into becoming plant.

Lee Edelman’s No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive puts a stop to mortgaging our future through the body of the child in an acceptance of the death drive through the afterlives of Hitchcock’s films.

The summer school week will feature keynote lectures (to be announced) as well as short papers presented by PhD candidates and other young scholars and a series of seminars in which we will closely examine the texts mentioned above, along with other works, including Dan Chaisson’s book of poems, entitled The Afterlife of Objects and Michael Ann Holly’s The Melancholy Art.

We welcome papers dealing with these questions from art historical, cultural, literary, cinematic, material, affective, technological, machinic, linguistic and other perspectives.

Applicants do not need to present a paper. However, those wishing to present should send a proposal of no more than 300 words and a short bio (max. 150 words) to: by 25 January 2019. You will be informed whether your contribution has been accepted by 8 February 2019. Papers will be circulated before the conference and will have to be submitted in full (max. 4,000 words) by 1 May 2019.

PhD students are credited 3,8 ECTS if certain requirements are met. For more information, please contact the organizers.

The ESSCS is an annual network-based event offering interdisciplinary research training in the fields of art and culture. The network comprises the University of Amsterdam, Leiden University, University of Copenhagen, University of Giessen, Goldsmiths College, Université de Paris VIII, the Lisbon Consortium, Ljubljana Institute for Humanities, University of Trondheim and Catholic University Rio de Janeiro.

Organizers: Frederik Tygstrup, Rune Gade and Carol Mavor.

Sound, Ontology, and Race: Which way does the turn go? 

Sound, Ontology, and Race: Which way does the turn go? 

NICA Masterclass with Dr. Alejandra Bronfman (University at Albany, SUNY)

Date: Tuesday 11 December, 15:00-17:00
Location: Potgieterzaal, University Library (UB), Singel 425, Amsterdam

During this masterclass we will work through a recent debate on the meaning of the recent ontological turn in Sound Studies, and in particular its relationship to race, politics and history. In turn, authors Marie Thompson, Annie Goh and Christoph Cox puzzle through what it means to bring materialism to bear on sound and listening. Is this problematic to considerations of sonic alterity and the politics of knowledge production? What are the productive critiques and fruitful considerations to bear in mind as we develop our own research projects? This workshop will invite participants to critically engage with these texts and think through the implications for imagining their own research directions. 

Reading preparation

– Thompson, Marie. “Whiteness and the Ontological Turn in Sound Studies.” Parallax 23.3 (2017): 266-282.

– Goh, Annie. “Sounding Situated Knowledges: Echo in Archaeoacoustics.” Parallax 23.3 (2017): 283-304.

– Cox, Christoph. “Sonic Realism and Auditory Culture: A Reply to Marie Thompson and Annie Goh.” Parallax 24.2 (2018): 234-242.

Dr. Alejandra Bronfman is Associate Professor in the Department of Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies at the University at Albany, SUNY. Her recent book, Isles of Noise: Sonic Media in the Caribbean (University of North Carolina Press, 2016), considers the politics and poetics of sound and broadcasting in Cuba, Jamaica and Haiti in the early 20th century. Future and past research interests include histories of race, the production of knowledge, and the materiality of media, its archives and infrastructures. Currently she is developing a project on sound, toxicity and environment in Vieques, Puerto Rico during the military occupation of the island. Another project decenters Cold War histories with a focus on Cuba-Haiti clandestine broadcasting in the early 1960s. 



Listening to Racism in the United State, or Why Sound Matters

Public lecture by Dr. Jennifer Lynn Stoever (Binghamton University, SUNY)

Date: Tuesday 11 December, 9:00-11:00
Location: Doelenzaal, University Library (UB), Singel 425, Amsterdam
Contact: (no registration necessary for this lecture)

We talk too often about race and racism as if they are solely visual concepts. Jennifer Stoever’s lecture will unsettle the assumed relationship between race and looking by introducing the concept of the sonic color line and exploring the often undetected ways in which sound and listening have also functioned to produce and enforce racial hierarchies throughout U.S. history and in our present moment. Stoever will also discuss how the sonic color line has shaped sound media such as the radio, and how sound media, in turn, have disciplined us to hear race.  With examples ranging from nineteenth century American pop opera stars to cold war radio to #blacklivesmatter, this lecture explores how sound and listening not only register the racial politics of our world, but actively produce them. Stoever argues that sound matters in our everyday lives and that we can work to shift our historically and culturally conditioned listening practices toward a more equitable world.  

Dr. Jennifer Lynn Stoever is co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sounding Out!. She is currently Associate Professor of English at Binghamton University, where she teaches courses on African American Literature, sound studies, and race and gender representation. She is the author of The Sonic Color Line: Race and the Cultural Politics of Listening (NYU Press, 2016).  


Hip Hop, Cop Voice and the Cadence of White Supremacy in the United States

Masterclass with Dr. Jennifer Lynn Stoever (Binghamton University, SUNY)

Date: Monday 10 December, 10:00-12:00
Location: Potgieterzaal, University Library (UB), Singel 425, Amsterdam

During this masterclass, we will discuss how police officers in the United States use a racialized and gendered way of speaking called ‘cop voice’ to provoke fear and extreme forms of compliance from people of colour. Through autoethnographic analysis coupled with sonic attention to how Jay-Z (‘99 Problems’), Public Enemy (‘Get the Fuck Out of Dodge’) and Prince Paul (‘The Men in Blue’) represent ‘cop voice’ through shifts in their rapping flow or by using white guest rappers, we will explore how police weaponize their voices. Identifying and listening closely to these examples of cop voice reveals how people who are raced as ‘white’ in the United States mobilize this subject position in their voices through particular cadences that audibly signify racial authority, while at the same time, never hearing themselves as doing so.

Reading preparation

NPR interview with Angela Ritchie + excerpt from Angela Ritchie, Invisible No More: Police Violence against Black Women and Women of Color. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2017.

– Stoever, Jennifer L. “The Sonic Color Line, Black Women, and Police Violence.” Black Perspectives, 9 July 2018,

– Stoever, Jennifer L. “‘Doing fifty-five in a fifty-four’: Hip Hop, Cop Voice and the Cadence of White Supremacy in the United States.” Journal for Interdisciplinary Voice Studies 3.2 (forthcoming 2018): 115-131. [NB: this is a proofs copy, please do not circulate without permission of the author]

– Bradley, Regina, “SANDRA BLAND: #SayHerName Loud or Not at All.” Sounding Out! 16 November 2015,

Off the Grid

Call for Papers – Soapbox: Journal for Cultural Analysis 1.2 “Off the Grid”

Grids govern our landscapes and cityscapes, our paintings and grocery lists, our maps and our borders, both walled and imaginary. They get us our energy and water, they fuel our online social lives, and structure the ways we perceive and move through space. On the one hand, the grid is a representational mode, one of rendering the world under a Euclidean regime of points, lines, and areas. On the other, it is the material infrastructure of utilities, transit routes and architecture. In an increasingly networked control society, data, numbers, and figures are in a constant feedback loop with material reality. Across this material-physical and the cultural-technical – between instantiations of the grid as artistic practice and as the “stuff you can kick” (Lisa Parks 2015) – we find a mess of politics and ideology, corporate and common interest.

For this issue, we encourage thinking ‘Off the Grid’ – calling for papers that envision and/or enact within, outside, through or against systems of perception, matter, energy and space. Papers might explore perspectives against logics that distribute power across concepts and cables, design and tarmac, techniques and technologies. This might mean engaging with what Shannon Mattern calls the “ether and ore” of contemporary urban and rural societies (2017), or it could involve tracing (dis)order in less concrete structures of visuality, spatiality and discourse. Is there a connection between a landscape gridded with pipelines and by modern scientific cartography? Or perhaps a shared logic between a grid of fiber-optics and the data societies it facilitates? To what extent is the grid by its very operation an instrument of national or corporate power – or can it be appropriated for the commons?

Ultimately, going ‘Off the Grid’ might be considered a romantic, futile gesture; a slantwise shift across preordained perspectives; an impossible step outside ideology; or an urgent tactic of resistance. If Western modernity and the grid go hand in hand – as suggested by Rosalind Krauss’ account of modern art’s gravitation towards “flattened, geometricized, ordered” forms (1985) – then what would it mean to challenge, repurpose or reject it? Does the concept still help us to understand the world, or limit expression within it?

For the second issue of Soapbox, a graduate peer-reviewed journal for cultural analysis, we invite young researchers to submit abstracts that critically engage with notions of the ‘Grid’. We encourage submissions that are directed towards, but not limited to, the following themes:

 Modes of resistance or alternatives to the grid as mode of organization
 The grid as (or as alternative to) network, assemblage, empire and/or entanglement
 Grids at the intersection of cultural geography and cultural analysis
 Infrastructure: infrastructural crises and failures, the edge of infrastructure
 (De)centralised power: the energy commons, democracy and climate crisis
 Cityscapes, urban ecologies and planning
 The rural as ‘off the grid’, against the grid, or as a grid
 Living off the grid: alternative lifestyles and escapism; survivalism and wilderness
 Grids in modern and contemporary art, architecture and design
 Visual (dis)order and film: quadrants, grids and golden ratios in mise-en-scène
 Grids in and as gaming; ‘NPCs’, ‘normies’ and meme culture
 Data, networks and digital traces

Please submit your abstract (max 300 words) to by December 1. The full papers (3000-5000 words) are due February 15. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions

Soapbox also welcomes texts on any topic, all year-round – send full drafts of 4,000-6,000 words to
Also consider contributing to our website, where a variety of styles and formats is encouraged, including short-form essays, reviews, experimental writing and multimedia. Please get in touch to pitch new ideas or existing projects for us to feature there.