The Acoustic Text Symposium

deadline for submissions: 
July 15, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Nanyang Technological University

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear’d,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:

– ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’, John Keats

Roland Barthes dreamt of a “language lined with flesh, a text where we can hear the grain of the throat, the patina of consonants, the voluptuousness of vowels and a whole carnal stereophony”. Literary music and textual sound are modes of inquiry that rely on rhythm instead of logic to make port, where words wash over the shore of the text like waves, and the analytical mind is subsumed by an oceanic rhythm. What are the conditions that allow for these acoustics? How and why does sound and/or music find resonance in literature, and to what desired end does it exist to function in the text?

In its most fundamental sense, sound is the vibration of energy in space. Music, on the other hand, has conventionally been regarded as the organisation of it — as an ordered, formed, and layered territory of sounds built upon each other. However, works such as John Cage’s 1952 composition, 4’33”, have suggested that sounds, even without deliberate ordering, may themselves be conceived as musical. The literary text is replete with sonic instances and representations, but only some of these are ever identified with musicality.

Considerations of sound also frequently lead us back to the body, both for its production of these acoustics, and its reception of them as a phenomena that unifies and surpasses sensory, emotive, and intellectual modes of apprehension. Samuel Beckett, Antonin Artaud, Marina Abramović, John Coltrane, and Theresa Cha, among many others, all display in their diverse works an attunement towards the vibratory dimensions of sound.

This symposium brings into critical aggregation the aesthetic concerns of literature, music, and sound. Where these areas of study frequently intersect to generate novel and inter/transmediary arenas of artistic exploration, its prospective array of panels will look to breach new ground in such discussions, as well as bring together like-minded academic minds seeking to explore them.

We gladly welcome papers that engage in any manner with the areas below (across the various literary mediums including but not limited to fiction, poetry, drama and film). We also welcome creative writers to submit any work invested in sound and music for a separate creative panel.

  • Word and Music
  • Sound versus Music
  • Voice in Literature
  • Sound and the Body
  • Sound, Music and Narrative
  • Silence
  • Resonance
  • Rhythm
  • Performance Acoustics
  • Sound and Music in Creative Writing

Please provide us with the following by July 15, 2021

  • Name of participant & affiliation
  • Title of paper/presentation
  • Abstract (250-300 words)
  • Short bio (+/- 150)

For creative submissions:

  • Name of participant & affiliation
  • Title of creative piece
  • Description of creative piece (200-300 words)
  • Creative sample (250-300 words/~5 mins of audio/
  • video)
  • Short bio (+/- 150)

These should be directed, alongside any questions or enquiries about the symposium, to: theacoustictextsymposium@e.ntu.edu.sg

More information will be provided accordingly at https://ntuhumanities.wixsite.com/acoustictext

 

Our Keynote Speakers:

  • Steven Connor

Steven Connor is Grace 2 Professor of English in the University of Cambridge and Director of Cambridge’s Centre for Research in Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH). He has published books on many topics, including Dickens, Beckett, Joyce, value, ventriloquism, skin, flies and air. His most recent books are Living by Numbers: In Defence of Quantity (2016), Dream Machines (2017), The Madness of Knowledge: On Wisdom, Ignorance and Fantasies of Knowing (2019) and Giving Way: Thoughts on Unappreciated Dispositions (2019). A History of Asking is due to appear from Open Humanities Press. His website at stevenconnor.com includes lectures, broadcasts, unpublished work and work in progress, including many essays and talks on sound and voice.

 

  • Rita Felski

Rita Felski is William R. Kenan., Jr., Professor of English at the University of Virginia and editor of New Literary History. She is the author of Beyond Feminist Aesthetics (Harvard UP, 1989), The Gender of Modernity (Harvard UP. 1995), Doing Time: Feminist Theory and Postmodern Culture (New York UP, 2000), Literature After Feminism (Chicago UP, 2003) and Uses of Literature (Blackwell’s 2008), as well as the editor of Rethinking Tragedy (Johns Hopkins UP, 2008). Her current research centers on aesthetics, method, and interpretation. The Limits of Critique (Chicago UP, 2015), on the role of suspicion in literary criticism, was widely reviewed and the subject of forums in PMLA, Religion and Literature, and the American Book Review. Similar issues are explored in an edited collection, Critique and Postcritique, co-edited with Elizabeth Anker (Duke University Press, 2017). Hooked: Art and Attachment, which asks how and why we get stuck to works of art, was published by Chicago UP in fall 2020. At the University of Virginia, Professor she regularly teaches the following courses: Critical Methods; Aesthetics and Politics; Comparative and Transnational Studies; Theories of Reading. In 2016 Professor Felski was awarded a Niels Bohr Professorship by the Danish National Research Foundation to lead a large research project on “Uses of Literature: The Social Dimensions of Literature.”

 

Organising Committee:

  • Daniel Kong
  • Ignatius Tan
  • Kimberly Han
  • Leong Jia En
  • Nadia Alang
  • Tiffany Teo

Faculty Advisors

  • Angela Frattarola
  • Cheryl Julia Lee
  • Michelle Wang
  • Neil Murphy