• Faculty

  • Julie Beth Napolin

    Associate Professor of Digital Humanities; Capstone Coordinator for Literature and Critical Analysis


    Office Location
    M - 68 Fifth Avenue

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    Julie Beth Napolin


    My work participates in the emerging field of sound studies, focusing on discourses of listening in modern and contemporay literature, film, media, philosophy, and music. I am especially interested in the history of sound reproduction and cinema's turn to sound, American and British modernism, the work of Faulkner and Conrad, and what practices and philosophies of listening in the 20th century and beyond can tell us about aesthetic forms.  I am also interested in the intersections of narrative and the digital humanities, asking how digital practices can represent the movements of sounds and voices in text. I am a radio producer, practicing musician, and core-collaborator of “Digital Yoknapatawpha,” an online mapping of the works of Faulkner. 

    My book manuscript, titled The Fact of Resonance, is forthcoming in June 2020 with Fordham University Press. The book is both a history of sound in modernity and a rethinking of the central categories of narrative theory through sound's phenomenology. The racially and sexually fraught spaces of Joseph Conrad's fiction instantiate narrative "acoustics." If modernism destabilizes what can be known, then how do modernism’s unstable epistemologies “sound?” The power of modernist narrative acoustics is to create indeterminate spaces where “facts”–of event, location, and identity–disperse and multiply. The book follows the transformations of sound technology through the resonances between the work of Conrad and Frantz Fanon, Sigmund Freud, W.E.B. Du Bois, William Faulkner, and Chantal Akerman.

    Research and teaching fields

    • Sound studies
    • Digital humanities
    • 20th-century American literature and media culture
    • Transatlantic modernism
    • Film history and theory
    • Narrative theory and the novel
    • Psychoanalysis and theories of the subject
    • Critical race theory
    • Gender and sexuality

    Degrees Held

    B.A., Interdisciplinary Studies, Hampshire College
    M.A., Rhetoric, University of California, Berkeley
    Ph.D., Rhetoric, University of California, Berkeley

    Professional Affiliation

    • Joseph Conrad Society of America (Trustee)
    • William Faulkner Society (Officer-at-large)
    • Modern Language Association
    • Society for the Study of Narrative
    • Society for Cinema and Media Studies
    • American Comparative Literature Association
    • Black Sound and the Archive Working Group, Yale University
    • Digital Yoknapatawpha 


    Recent Publications

    Blues Speaker [for James Baldwin]: A Dialogue with Mendi + Keith Obadike, Social Text Online, 21 August 2018. 

    “On Banishing Socrates’ Wife: The Interiority of the Ear in Phaedo,” Poesies, eds. Nathan Brown and Petar Milat, Centre for Expanded Poetics, 2017.

    “Elliptical Sound: Audibility and the Space of Reading,” Sounding Modernism, eds. Julian Murphet, Penelope Hone, and Helen Groth, Edinburgh UP, 2017.

    “The Fact of Resonance: An Acoustics of Determination in Faulkner and Benjamin.” Symploke, vol. 24, no. 1-2, 2016, pp. 171-186.

    “Scenes of Subjection: Women’s Voices Narrating Black Death." Sounding Out!: The Sound Studies Blog, 19 December, 2016. 

    “‘A Sinister Resonance’: Vibration, Sound, and the Birth of Conrad’s Marlow,” qui parle, vol. 21, no. 2, pp. 53-79. Awarded the Bruce Harkness Young Scholar Prize by the Joseph Conrad Society of America.

    Awards And Honors

    Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Price Lab for Digital Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania, 2018-2020

    Mellon Fellow in the Graduate Institute of Design, Ethnography, and Social Thought, 2014-2015

    The Joseph Conrad Society of America Bruce Harkness Young Scholar Prize, 2013

    Jacob K. Javits Fellow, 2001-2005

    Woodrow Wilson Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities, 2000-2001

    Current Courses

    Ind Senior Project
    LLSL 4990, Spring 2024

    Independent Study
    LLSL 3950, Spring 2024

    Future Courses

    Independent Senior Project
    LCST 4990, Fall 2024

    Intro to Lit Theory & Crit
    LLST 2011, Fall 2024

    Introduction to Sound Studies
    LCST 2460, Fall 2024

    Theories of Reality of Fiction
    LLSL 2020, Fall 2024

    Past Courses

    After Images: Lit & Photograph
    LCST 4564, Fall 2023

    After Images: Lit & Photograph
    NMDS 5451, Fall 2023

    Independent Senior Project
    LCST 4990, Fall 2023

    Listening to America
    LLSL 2039, Fall 2023

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