My primary research project, “Intermedial Voices,” draws on literary theory, critical theory, and media studies in order to investigate networks of sonorous literary and musical voices from early modernity onward. I undertook this research at Western University and Freiburg University, and with Kiene Brillenburg Wurth at Utrecht University. It was supported by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Richard J. Schmeelk Foundation.
“Intermedial Voices” contributes to scholarly debates on the material turn of literary studies by borrowing from methodologies in film and media studies. More specifically, it builds on the reception of voice in literary theory in order to contribute a theory of poetics adapted to new means and supports. Finally, it aims to provide tools to teach a new generation of students how literature informs the production of new media content.
I have published three articles from this project. The first recovers vocal sonorities from Macpherson’s Poems of Ossian and argues for a phonographic epistle in Massenet’s opera Werther. Following its publication in the Journal of Musicological Research, I was invited to give a lecture in Comparative Literature and Musicology at Cornell University. Another article appeared in the International Journal of Performance Art and Digital Media. It examines how digital scenography underscores the materiality of voice in post-dramatic opera and its texts. Articles on queer technological voices in Xavier Dolan’s film Mommy appeared in the film journal Synoptique and in the European Journal of American Studies. I presented several conference papers on intermedial voices in Europe and in North America. I am currently working on a book manuscript titled Soundscapes of the Literary Voice. It traces the sonorous voice from its evocative silence in narratology to its resonant material form in audiobooks, podcasts, and other digital forms of vocal performance.
“Posthumanist Vocality,” my second research project, studies technology as an inherent and embodied component of human and nonhuman communication. Posthumanism is at once critical of the voice for its anthropocentric valorization of speech, and fascinated by its material sonority and potential in cross-species emotional communication. This research was undertaken at Utrecht University, is ongoing at Oberlin College & Conservatory, and has been supported by a postdoctoral fellowship from SSHRC.
I am also publishing this research. The Journal of Aesthetics and Culture published a comparative essay on nature, technology, and mimesis in the novel Us Conductors and the Ring Cycle. A book chapter in the Oxford Handbook of Sound and Imagination is in press. It compares singing androids in literature, film, and opera. As co-guest editor, I will soon be submitting a special issue on “Vocal Remediation and Embodiment” to a leading journal. My contribution compares remediated voices in recent films to 18th– and 19th-century accounts of singers as machines. Publication of individual papers is expected in 2019, and of the issue in 2020. I am also writing a book chapter for an anthology titled Voicing New Materialisms, which will be published in 2021. I have convened two conference panels on posthumanist vocality, and am proposing another on musical affect and technics for the American Comparative Literature Association’s 2019 annual congress.