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Caribbean Sites and Sounds

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Organizer: Charlie Hankin

Co-Organizer: Ashford King

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The articulation or (as Édouard Glissant put it) “confrontation” between the oral and the scribal has long figured as a fundamental trope in Caribbean writing. From Juan Francisco Manzano’s practice of improvising décimas to Kamau Brathwaite’s speechlike “nation language” to Frankétiene’s improvisatory Kreyòl writing to Rita Indiana’s merengue “mixtape” novels, what Carol Bailey calls the “oral-scribal aesthetic” disrupts received borders between literature and music, blurs distinctions between high and popular culture, and rehearses alternate forms of belonging. A recent “sonic turn” in Latin American literary studies, reflected in the work of scholars such as Ana María Ochoa Gautier, Juan Otero Garabís, Frances Aparicio, and Tom McEnaney (among others), reinforces the urgency to continue this intermedial work.

With the goal of bringing together scholars of literature, poetics, music, and sound, working across the diverse national and linguistic contexts of the Caribbean and Atlantic world, this panel invites speakers to consider how sonic and performance practices not only shape the literary field but are constitutive of it, and, conversely, how the literary field influences these practices. In doing so, our objective is to explore the ways text can index sound and sound can index place.

We seek papers that further historicize and develop new interdisciplinary frameworks for approaching the relationship between site and sound in the Caribbean. How are site and sound connected in literary soundscapes? In what ways is the confrontation between the oral and the scribal influenced by the confrontation between the rural and the urban? How do sonic practices and their literary representations reveal strategies of subsistence and resistance? What does a comparative approach to Caribbean sites and sounds reveal about the region’s present and future

Submissions are welcome that consider one or more of following themes, either from a pan-Caribbean/comparative perspective or in a specific local or national context: aurality; ekphrasis; improvisation; intermediality; oral poetry; performance art; poetics; song.

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