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: C.J.Birdsall@uva.nl (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).