Visual and Media Cultures Colloquium: Pooja Rangan

Title: Documentary Audibilities: Voice, Listening, and the Human

Location: Porter College, Room D-245
Date and Time: Monday, October 16, 2017 @ 4pm

Abstract: In the field of documentary, voice, rather than point of view, is the prevailing metaphor for a filmmaker’s unique perspective, signaling the documentary genre’s emphasis on spoken words, as well as its enduring social mission of “giving voice.” My talk will unpack the humanitarian resonances of this metaphor, as elaborated in my book Immediations: The Humanitarian Impulse in Documentary (Duke UP, 2017), in conversation with recent scholarship on race, sound, and listening. I will discuss how documentary’s vocal conventions can normalize as well as undermine the complex hierarchies of race, gender, and other axes of difference implicated in the practices of giving voice and bearing witness. Central to my discussion will be a reframing of “voice” as an audibility: a product of auditory forms and practices preceding and including documentary that discipline unspoken norms of speaking and listening—norms that regulate what counts as human in the domain of sound.

Bio: Pooja Rangan is Assistant Professor of English in Film and Media Studies at Amherst College. She is the author of Immediations: The Humanitarian Impulse in Documentary (Duke UP, 2017), and of numerous articles in journals including Feminist Media Histories, Film Quarterly, Camera Obscura, World Picture, and differences. Rangan is the co-editor, with Genevieve Yue, of a forthcoming special issue of the journal Discourse on “Documentary Audibilities.” Her current research deals with the politics and aesthetics of accented speech and listening.


Monday, October 16, 2017 - 4:00pm
Porter College, Room D-245