Tom McEnaney on the Significance of Sound in Testimonio

14 Jul, 2020

Tom McEnaney on the Significance of Sound in Testimonio

Associate Professor Tom McEnaney recently published "Rigoberta's Listener": The Significance of Sound in Testimonio,” in the March 2020 issue of Theories and Methodologies. In the piece, McEnaney asks what meaning might be found in the recorded sounds of testimonial voices, why they have traditionally been made into print books, and how they might help us better interpret and understand Nobel Peace Prize laureate Rigoberta Menchú’s indigenous activism.

From the article:

Does the medium matter in the history of testimonio? In a genre so identified with the “voice of the other,” why have critics insisted that testimonio is a “printed as opposed to acoustic form” (Beverley, “Margin” 24)? Why were so many of the tapes used to write testimonios never made available to researchers or the listening public? And what might the study of sound and aurality contribute to our understanding of Me llamo Rigoberta Menchú?...

Rather, I want to think with this most famous of testimonios to consider what generations of scholars and practitioners might have missed by treating testimonio tapes as mere material, ignoring the semiotics of sound alongside those of print, abstracting a speaker’s voice into the metaphor of the voice, and failing to attend to the role of the listener and aurality with as much care as the entextualized voice of the speaker.

Check out the article in full here!