Candidate Statement – Executive Committee – last day to vote (December 10)

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    Julie Beth Napolin

    Dear Colleagues,

    Though a new member of the Sound forum, I am writing to ask for your support for my nomination to the forum’s Executive Committee. For 20 years, I have been producing scholarship in the field of sound. Since 2001, I have presented on the topic of sound at MLA, beginning with “The Negative Dialectics of Phonographic Sound” (2001, New Orleans) and most recently, “Elision as Audio-Visual Form: Recording Racial Terror in Cane and The Red Record” (2017, Philadelphia). I’ve participated in sound studies’ growth from a nascent area of music and cultural studies–inviting lots of head-scratching and quizzical looks– to a full-fledged field with canonical authors and texts. But its development and interventions are by no means through.

    If elected as a member of the Executive Committee, my goal is to support emerging scholars and adjunct faculty in the field, while also strengthening our connections to postcolonial studies and feminisms, and expanding our discussions in narrative forms, such as the novel, film, and contemporary digital art. I would also like to help support collaborative writing projects across the many disciplines represented by Sound.

    As a scholar, musician, radio producer, and community activist, my work has always been about listening or turning an ear towards others. I have produced a series of co-written texts with sound artists, as well as collaborative digital humanities and music projects. I would bring that work to co-leadership of the committee.

    Currently, I am completing a book project for Fordham UP titled _The Fact of Resonance_, which returns to the imperial and colonial contexts in which Anglophone and francophone narrative theory developed, seeking an alternative sonic premise for theorizing narrative form in the novel, film, and art. The study is primarily focused on Joseph Conrad and concerns the bearing of his multilingual formation and attunement to the vocal otherness of colonial encounters.

    In addition to teaching at the New School, I am Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Price Lab for Digital Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania, working on a project titled “The Sound of Yoknapatawpha: An Acoustic Ecology,” which will map sounds in the fictional world of Faulkner. I am a member of the Black Sound and the Archive Working Group at Yale University and a regular contributor to “Sounding Out!: The Sound Studies Blog,” where I recently published a three-part series on W.E.B. Du Bois, Sigmund Freud, and maternal listening. In that series, I ask how black feminism can help retrieve psychoanalysis for sound studies.

    These are examples of some of the questions, work, and experience that I would bring to our forum.

    I am looking forward to working with you in the coming years as member and/or Executive. You can vote through the “Governance” tab in the “About Us” section of the MLA’s website.

    If you have any questions today – which is the last day to vote! – please don’t hesitate to contact me at or tweet at me @voicesbend. You may also review my work and projects at Please also message me to introduce yourself – I’d love to know what you’re working on.

    Thank you for your consideration, and best wishes for the new year,

    Julie Beth

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