Sound off!

My cartoon characters are real! What a week.

Went to Tennessee for the first time and did #Afrofuturism with the best: Michelle Commander, Amy Elias, Nettrice Gaskins, Tiffany Barber, Scott Heath, Alessandra Raengo, Michael Bennett, and Jonathan Eburne. And Nnedi Okorafor!

We’re gearing up to take this show on the road with a roundtable at next year’s MLA. Stay tuned. Shared references to John Akomfrah and the Black Audio Film Collective let you know this symposium was the real deal.

I decided to go with a theme that I haven’t treated in detail in much of my writing for the purpose of this gathering: time travel. We’re always talking about the way Black life resists linear time, right? I decided to put on paper what I’ve been thinking about why that is, from my teaching and my encounters with the more brilliant interpreters of astrophysics & quantum physics in the Afrofuturist continuum, and the result was a meditation on Kindred, entropy, and the relationship between the Arrow of Time and the Door Of No Return.

I can’t even explain how cool my new in-person colleagues are. But let me point out that Nnedi Okorafor is the truth. I need to hurry up and read Binti: Home. 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch: we welcomed Jennifer Stoever to campus for a rousing discussion of sound studies, radio, and race in American literature & culture. 

The Sonic Color Line: Get Into It! In addition to bringing out my students & colleagues, the occasion really elevated my burgeoning collegiality with a leading thinker in a field that needs new energy (and is fortunate to have it in some quarters), and I hope I can meet the challenge. I’m more committed than ever to sound studies, in part because it will be a departure from the long-term project on which I’ve spent the last decade. But not too much of a departure! The thing about sound is, it’s a medium, and it works through a medium. It’s an ideal venue to work out the future of Afrofuturism, if you will, and I am really glad I can spend however long it takes to investigate race, genre, and radio drama. (Also, check out this awesome candid shot below.)