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Phonographies: Grooves in Sonic Afro-Modernity Paperback – May 20, 2005

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Editorial Reviews


Phonographies is extraordinary. Its acute, brilliant, and unprecedented attention to technology and its relation to music, literature, and Afro-diasporic subjectivity and citizenship make it one of the most important and significant contributions to black studies, cultural studies, and aesthetic theory in the last ten years. Phonographies demands, and will abundantly repay, the careful attention of its readers and listeners.”—Fred Moten, author of In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition

“A glorious and important contribution to the literatures on music technologies, black music, black writing, and race studies, Phonographies is unique. For the first time, we have a theory that suggests how powerful black culture is in the course of modernity and that accounts for the almost global dominance of black modes of musicality in world cultures since the advent of recorded sound.”—John Corbett, author of Extended Play: Sounding Off from John Cage to Dr. Funkenstein

“Exacting, incisive, and stylistically engaging from start to finish, Phonographies is the most far-reaching reconfiguration of the vexed relations between Afrodiasporic modernity, phonography, aurality, and subjectivity published to date. Alexander Weheliye stages a rich set of encounters between DuBois and Ellison, Tricky and Gilroy, Derrida and Armstrong, Glissant and The Fugees in order to open up the entangled topography he terms ‘sonic Afro-modernity.’ In so doing, Weheliye has produced a discursive intervention that is thrilling in its detail, rigorous in its arguments, and profound in its implications. A deeply considered, important volume.”—Kodwo Eshun, author of More Brilliant Than the Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction

“In this outstanding book, Alexander G. Weheliye combines sound ‘phono’ and writing ‘graph’ in the classic texts of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man and W. E. B Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk to create Phonographies : Grooves in Sonic Afro-modernity. This book is an original examination of sound (often comparing it to visual representations), music, music technologies (from the phonograph to iPods) and disk jockeying. Phonographies includes a multitude of well-researched references to key writers in African American studies, music history, literary criticism and cultural studies, drawing upon the work of Althusser, Derrida, Deleuze, Freud, and Lacan, amongst others, to inform views. . . . [Phonographies is] definitely worth reading more than once; it is a highly significant text for the field of African American Studies.”
(Emma Louise Kilkelly, Journal of American Studies)

About the Author

Alexander G. Weheliye is Assistant Professor of English and African American Studies at Northwestern University.


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