Julie Beth Napolin is a scholar, musician, and radio producer. She is the co-President of the William Faulkner Society, a member of the editorial board of Sound Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, a member of the MLA Sound Forum executive committee, and the President of the New School chapter of the American Association of University Professors.
She works across sound, modernism, memory studies, digital humanities, film and media, race, gender and sexuality, narrative and novel theory, and psychoanalysis. She is particularly interested in the history of sound reproduction and its intersections with the history of the novel, art, and film and media, asking what practices of technological listening can tell us about the politics of memory and form. Her essays on sound in the work of Joseph Conrad have been awarded the Bruce Harkness Prize (2013) and the J.H. Stape Conradiana Prize (2020). She completed a PhD in Rhetoric at UC Berkeley with Ramona Naddaff, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Judith Butler, and Carolyn Porter.
Her first monograph, The Fact of Resonance: Modernist Acoustics and Narrative Form (Fordham UP, 2020) was published in the IDIOM series, edited by Paul North and Jacques Lezra. It was shortlisted for the 2021 Memory Studies Association first book award. The book returns to the colonial and technological contexts in which anglophone and francophone narrative and novel theory developed, seeking in resonance an alternative premise for theorizing modernist narrative form. Arguing that narrative and novel theory have been founded on a colonial exclusion of sound, The Fact of Resonance poses a missing counterpart to modernism’s question “who speaks?” in the hidden acoustic questions “who hears?” and “who listens?” The power of modernist narrative acoustics is to create indeterminate spaces where “facts”–of event, location, and identity–disperse, multiply, and resonate across time and space. The book follows the transformations of sound technology and narrative acoustics through the resonances between the work of Joseph Conrad and Frantz Fanon, Sigmund Freud, W.E.B. Du Bois, William Faulkner, and Chantal Akerman.
A new book project, “After Images,” is a study of aural testimony, witnessing, and memorialization, of the imprint of sound on memory and space in instances where images fail to appear or are otherwise blocked from political reckoning. It follows strategies of listening, speaking, and sounding in the historical novel and documentary fiction, contemporary art and performance, and social media. If we have seen too much, then what kind of monument to political wounds is erected by aurality? Does such a monument simply reinstate the violence it commemorates?
Having been Associate Director of The Digital Yoknapatawpha Project, she continues to work on a digital sound project titled “The Sound of Yoknapatawpha: An Acoustic Ecology.” The project maps the fictional and historical sounds of the world of Faulkner, moving between the American South and the Global South to follow the invisible routes of space and memory. She produced an oral history of Henry Street Settlement in the time of COVID-19, which is being acquired by the New York Public Library and plays music under the moniker Meridians.
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) and “The Expropriated Voice: Intertextuality, Sonority, Flesh,” in the Faulkner and Slavery volume, ed. Jay Watson (University of Mississippi Press, 2021).
Arthur J Sabatini said:
Enjoyed your conversation with Alan Licht and meeting you at the ICA. Started hearing your “Fact of Resonance” and looking forward to reading through it. Let’s keep in touch. I have two websites badly needing updates – and what an elegant one you have. My work is scattered, but some is available on https://ajsabatini.academia.edu/research#papers, including PHILADELPHIA’S MUSICO-SONIC-OPTICAL UNCONSCIOUS OR, FROM THE LEGACY OF A GLASS HARP TO PARADES, PARADOXICAL SUBLIMATIONS AND REFRAINS, which I’m thinking could have used the idea of resonance! If Peter Price sends you his book, one chapter is about my writing on Robert Ashley. Arthur
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James Mercer said:
Hey Julie it’s James Mercer calling. Just want to say hi and see if you might join us at one the several gigs we’ve got coming up. Where’s home for you now? I’d love to hang out sometime! Trust you are very well. Trust I’m affecting a positive attitude as always. Do call.
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andy h. said:
hello julie. your brightness always cast a warm glow in the black and white spotted space that we once called home. happy to learn that you found a way to use your smarts and insight. trust all is well. andy in abq.