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Recent (ethno)musicological and anthropological explorations of the voice have almost exclusively been concerned with what the voice says – a true “phonocentrism,” if there ever has been one. In this course, the focus will be on a range of neglected aspects of the voice by probing two of the most powerful myths underlying Western constructions of the voice: the notion that an intimate link connects the voice and the subject, on one hand, and the idea that non-Western cultures are profoundly oral on the other hand. The first myth will be examined through a discussion of (predominantly) eighteenth-century century opera, the second through a close reading of Western constructions of the voice in Africa and its resurgence in African American hip hop.



Phonè vs. Grammè

Jacques Derrida: The End of the Book and the Beginning of Writing, Of Grammatology. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998 (1974), 6-26

Voices of Passion: J.-J. Rousseau and the Origins of Music

Jacques Derrida: Genesis and Structure of the Essay on the Origin of Languages, Of Grammatology. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998 (1974), 165-268

Downing A. Thomas: Music and the Origins of Language. Theories from the French Enlightenment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995

Jean Jacques Rousseau: Essai sur l’origine des langues. John H. Moran, Alexander Gode, trans. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966

Orality Revisited (Or Reinvented?)

Paul Zumthor: Oral Poetry. An Introduction. Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press, 1990

Objects of Desire I: Lacan and the Voice

Mladen Dolar: ‘The Object Voice,’ in Renata Saleci and Slavoj Zizek, eds., Gaze and Voice as Love Objects. Durham: Duke University Press, 1996, 7-31

Michel Poizat: The Angel’s Cry. Beyond the Pleasure Principle in Opera. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992

Objects of Loss: Female Voices

Kaja Silverman: The Acoustic Mirror: The Female Voice in Psychoanalysis and Cinema. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998 

Objects of Desire II: Other Throats

Wayne Koestenbaum: The Queen's Throat: Opera, Homosexuality, and the Mystery of Desire. Da Capo Press, 2001

Singing The Self

John Potter: Vocal authority: Singing Style and Ideology. Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1998

The Metaphysical Voice

Gary Tomlinson: Metaphysical Song. An Essay on Opera. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999

African Voices

Genevieve Calame-Griaule: Voice and the Dogon World, Notebooks in Cultural Analysis, Vol. 3, ed. Norman F. Cantor and Nathalia King. Durham: Duke University Press  

Cornelia Fales: Issues of Timbre: The Inanga Chuchotée, The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, Africa. New York: Garland, 1998, pp. 164-207

Hip Hop

Houston Baker: Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987

Cheryl Keyes: Rap Music and Street Consciousness. Urbana : University of Illinois Press, 2002

Adam Krims: Rap Music and the Poetics of Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000

Tricia Rose: Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1994 

Robert Walser: Rhythm, Rhyme and Rhetoric in the Music of Public Enemy, Ethnomusicology 39/2, pp.193-218

The Naked Voice

Roland Barthes: The Grain of the Voice.

Roland Barthes: Listening, The Responsibility of Forms. Berkeley: University of California Press: 245-60

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