History & Theory

System Addict

History & Theory
02 Apr, 2015

System Addict


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Original Post

In addition to arguing for the significance of contemporary R&B music -- a genre frequently neglected in scholarly debates about popular music -- as central to Black culture, this talk will consider how technologies such as voice processing software and mobile gadgets appear as integral parts of the political and aesthetic fabric of R&B music over the last 25 years. In doing so, the talk makes a broader argument about limited definitions of the technological as well as the still fraught relationship between Black culture and technology.

Alexander G. Weheliye is professor of African American Studies at Northwestern University where he teaches black literature and culture, critical theory, social technologies, and popular culture. He is the author of Phonographies: Grooves in Sonic Afro-Modernity (Duke UP, 2005) and Habeas Viscus: Racializing Assemblages, Biopolitics, and Black Feminist Theories of the Human (Duke UP, 2014). Currently, he is working on two projects. The first, Modernity Hesitant: The Civilizational Diagnostics of W.E.B. Du Bois and Walter Benjamin, tracks the different ways in which these thinkers imagine the marginal as central to the workings of modern civilization. The second, Feenin: R&B’s Technologies of Humanity, offers a critical history of the intimate relationship between R&B music and technology since the late 1970's. His work has been published and is forthcoming in many journals and anthologies, including American Literary History, The Black Scholar, boundary 2, The Journal of Visual Culture, Public Culture, Small Axe, Social Text, Black Europe and the African Diaspora, The Oxford Handbook of Mobile Music Studies, and The Contemporary African American Novel. A selection of his writings can be found here:

The History and Theory of New Media Lecture Series brings to campus leading humanities scholars working on issues of media transition and technological emergence. The series promotes new, interdisciplinary approaches to questions about the uses, meanings, causes, and effects of rapid or dramatic shifts in techno-infrastructure, information management, and forms of mediated expression. Presented by the Berkeley Center for New Media, this event is free and open to the public.

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