Accent, Disability, and the Problem of "Giving Voice" in Documentary with Pooja Rangan

Monday, February 5, 2018
6:00 PM - 7:45 PM (ET)
PALMTN Emerson Auditorium
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Voice as Documentary Audibility: Accent, Disability, and the Problem of "Giving Voice"

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 textual emphasis on spoken words, as well as its social ethic of “giving voice.” Rangan’s talk will unpack the humanitarian resonances of this metaphor, as elaborated in her book Immediations: The Humanitarian Impulse in Documentary (Duke UP 2017), reframing voice as an audibility: a product of auditory forms and practices such as documentary that discipline unspoken norms of speaking and listening. Her talk will place documentary depictions of autistic protagonists and call center agents in conversation, asking how documentary’s vocal conventions can accentuate as well as neutralize the complex mediations of ethnicity, ability, and other axes of difference implicated in the production and reception of vocal sounds.

About the presenter:
Pooja Rangan is Assistant Professor of English in Film and Media Studies at Amherst College. Her book Immediations: The Humanitarian Impulse in Documentary (Duke UP 2017) examines the humanitarian ethic of giving voice to the voiceless in contemporary participatory media interventions. Rangan’s work has been published in Feminist Media Histories, Film Quarterly, Camera Obscura, World Picture, and differences, among other venues. Rangan also serves on the board of the Flaherty Film Seminar, and is co-editor, with Genevieve Yue, of a forthcoming special issue of the journal Discourse on “Documentary Audibilities.” Her current research deals with the documentary politics and aesthetics of accented speech and listening.

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