The filmic imagination of slavery displays a density of representations by which a more nuanced and multisensory understanding of blackness and power may be understood. By tracking numerous scenes of violence and exchange under enslavement, this article engages how the fugitivity of Black displacement and roaming manifests itself sonically, exposing music as both a material trade and a state of being for captured peoples whose narratives demand a hearing. Black British filmmaker Steve McQueen’s adaptation (2013) of Solomon Northup’s memoir Twelve Years a Slave (1853) sounds the transition from freedom to captivity through the talents of the (future) enslaved as well as those who might betray them, including the plantation overhearers who are theorized here as pivotal workers in the maintenance and maturity of the institution.


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pp. 150-161
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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