Julie Beth Napolin is a scholar, musician, and radio producer. She is former Associate Director of The Digital Yoknapatawpha Project, a trustee of the Joseph Conrad Society of America, and an officer-at-large of the William Faulkner Society. She received a PhD in Rhetoric from UC Berkeley and is the 2018-19 Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Price Lab for Digital Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is working on a project titled “The Sound of Yoknapatawpha: An Acoustic Ecology.” The project maps the fictional and historical sounds of the world of Faulkner.
Her work participates in the fields of sound studies, Transatlantic modernism, narrative and novel theory, film studies, digital humanities, critical race studies, feminism, and psychoanalysis. She is particularly interested in the history of sound reproduction and its intersections with the history of the novel, film, art, and media, asking what practices of technological listening can tell us about the politics of form.
Her book manuscript, titled The Fact of Resonance, will be published next winter with the IDIOM series of Fordham University Press, edited by Paul North and Jacques Lezra. The book is both a history of sound in modernity and a rethinking of the central categories of narrative theory through sound’s phenomenology. The racially and sexually fraught narrative spaces of Joseph Conrad instantiate what the book calls “narrative acoustics.” If modernism destabilizes what can be known, then how do 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. The book follows the transformations of sound technology through the resonances between the work of Conrad and Frantz Fanon, Sigmund Freud, W.E.B. Du Bois, William Faulkner, Walter Benjamin, Sergei Eisenstein, and Chantal Akerman.
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).