Julie Beth Napolin is Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities and Literary Studies at Eugene Lang College, The New School. She is former Associate Director of The Digital Yoknapatawpha Project, a musician, and radio producer (formerly of Stanford University and KALW’s “Philosophy Talk”).
Her work participates in the fields of auditory cultural studies, transatlantic modernism, 20th-century American literature and culture, critical theory, and narrative. She is particularly interested in the history of sound reproduction and its intersections with narrative, and what practices of listening can tell us about the novel as form.
Her book manuscript, titled The Fact of Resonance: Modernism and Narrative Acoustics, is a study of the sound effects of modernist narrative organized around auditory phenomena (“audibility,” “echo,” “sinister resonance,” and “reverberation”). The racially and sexually fraught narrative spaces of Joseph Conrad and William Faulkner instantiate what the book calls “narrative acoustics.” If modernism destabilizes what can be known, then the book asks how modernism’s unstable epistemologies “sound.” The power of modernist narrative acoustics is to create indeterminate spaces where “facts”–of event, location, and identity–disperse and multiply. Working with aural phenomenology as both theme and method, the book theorizes sounds in the work of Freud, Benjamin, Fanon, Du Bois, Hemingway, Duras, Ellison, and the contemporary sound works of Mendi + Keith Obadike. The book rethinks the central categories of narrative theory through sound phenomenology.
Recent essays include “Elliptical Sound: Audibility and the Space of Reading” in Sounding Modernism, eds. Julian Murphet, Penelope Hone, and Helen Groth (University of Edinburgh Press, 2017).