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Sounding Off

Rhythm, Music, and Identity in West African and Caribbean Francophone Novels

Julie Huntington

Publication Year: 2009

Intrigued by "texted" sonorities—the rhythms, musics, ordinary noises, and sounds of language in narratives—Julie Huntington examines the soundscapes in contemporary Francophone novels such as Ousmane Sembene's God's Bits of Wood (Senegal), and Patrick Chamoiseau's Solibo Magnificent (Martinique). Through an ethnomusicological perspective, Huntington argues in Sounding Off that the range of sounds —footsteps, heartbeats, drumbeats—represented in West African and Caribbean works provides a rhythmic polyphony that creates spaces for configuring social and cultural identities.

Huntington’s analysis shows how these writers and others challenge the aesthetic and political conventions that privilege written texts over orality and invite readers-listeners to participate in critical dialogues—to sound off, as it were, in local and global communities.

Published by: Temple University Press

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pp. ix-x

There are so many people who contributed to this project throughout the years. Thanks to my mentors at Vanderbilt University, Anth

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pp. 1-19

The act of silent reading is a curious process consisting of multiple interior openings and exterior closings. As we open our books, open our eyes, and open our minds to enter the imaginative space of the text, we close ourselves off from the people around us and limit our interactions with the space we inhabit. To the eyes of an observer, the silent reader appears generally ...

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1. Rhythm and Transcultural Poetics

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pp. 20-61

Rhythm and rhythmic processes underlie everything we do. Resonating from inside of us and all around us, rhythms shape the experiences of our day-to-day lives, both conscious and unconscious. In our bodies, physiological rhythms regulate our heartbeat and respiration. When we are in good health, they keep our organs functioning at an appropriate pace. ...

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2. Rhythm and Reappropriation in God’s Bits of Wood and The Suns of Independence

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pp. 62-111

Throughout time, music and rhythm have served as important strategies for subverting and reappropriating authority, particularly in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, during which time diverse musical genres—including jazz, punk, rap, and other forms of popular music—have played a role in challenging aesthetic and sociocultural conventions in locations ...

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3. Rhythm, Music, and Identity in L’appel de sarènes and Ti Jean L’horizon

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pp. 112-159

As we travel through space and time, rhythm and music provide us with meaningful points of reference and relation. Although we remain physically grounded in a perpetually shifting present time frame, such suggestive sounding phenomena mentally transport us to alternate temporal and spatial contexts. I experience this in my own life on a regular basis. Last ...

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4. Music and Mourning in Crossing the Mangrove and Solibo Magnificent

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pp. 160-216

The question of how to identity oneself and to whom is always a tricky one, involving an intricate process of communication on the part of the subject, recognition on the part of the other(s), and plays for positionality among the subject, the other(s), and multiple external agents, factors and circumstances. Questions of identity are further complicated since they tend to ...

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Concluding Remarks

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pp. 217-222

Rhythms and rhythmic processes underlie everything we do. Physiological, biological, and planetary rhythms regulate the functions of our bodies, other living organisms, and our surrounding environments, while linguistic and cultural rhythms shape our interactions with others as we move through space and time. And then there are the rhythms of music, the ...

Works Cited

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pp. 223-234


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pp. 235-243

About the Author

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p. 244-244

E-ISBN-13: 9781439900338
Print-ISBN-13: 9781439900321

Publication Year: 2009