Broken Voices, Broken Ears — ACLA Seminar, 2012; CFP Deadline November 15, 2011

full name / name of organization: 
Serena Le (UC Berkeley) and Giffen Maupin (Cornell University)
contact email: 


What is the sound of crisis? Is it a human voice made inhuman? A whisper, a cry, a moan, a scream? Is it a staggering cacophony or a stunned silence, a static shock or a stutter? And what is its relationship to the listening ear, the trapped ear, the ear whose hearing falters? From Dante's depictions of Maleboge, the grotesque sounds of which defy description, to Adorno's post-Holocaust call for a music that takes on the "odium of dehumanization," seeming failures of audition and vocalization have figured not only as indicators of moments and spaces of catastrophe, but also as means by which "unspeakable" events are instigated, carried forward, embodied in aftermath.

This ACLA seminar seeks to encourage discussion of the inharmonic, the anti-harmonic, the anechoic, the acoustic concussive. Like Shelley's dramatization of Beatrice Cenci, whose self-censuring question ("Why do I talk?") is unwilling to equate direct expression with well-formed speech, we are interested in the quality and capacity of aural content at its point of breaking or being broken. We welcome paper proposals across all disciplines from scholars interrogating the collapse—perceived, enacted, unwitting—of hearing and of voice, as well as the conditions governing its representation in text and other mediums.

Please submit a 250 word abstract through the ACLA website, and select "Broken Voices, Broken Ears" as the seminar for submission:

Abstracts should be for papers of 15-20 minutes in duration (please refer to the ACLA website for general conference details). The deadline for all abstracts is November 15, 2011.