virginia.edu
Pavilion V on the UVA Lawn

King’s Vibrato: Speech, Power and the Sounds of Blackness

Date & Time

January 17, 2017 @ 6:00 pm reception, 6:30 pm lecture

Location

Jefferson School African American Heritage Center
233 4th St, NW
Charlottesville, VA 22903

Podcast

Overview

The Community MLK Celebration presents Maurice Wallace, Associate Professor, English Department and Associate Director, African-American & African Studies, Carter G. Woodson Institute, University of Virginia will explore the sonic force and densities of Martin Luther King, Jr’s speech-making. He will discuss the power of amplified speech and ambient sound in the making of King’s memory.  In a sense, this talk is part of a historical recovery project aimed at resituating King’s voice (as distinct from his words) in time and space.  Knowing the rhetorical content of King’s speeches is not at all the same as knowing a great deal about King’s unique sound or the dynamics of technology and state terror inspiring it.

For while sound amplification technology may have augmented the tonality in King’s voice as he spoke in Washington and preached in Memphis, for example, it is also certain that this same technology helped mute the state threat to King and his auditors, fearfully heard in the constant clicking of cameras, recorders, timers, and triggers.

Speaker(s)

Maurice Wallace

Associate Professor, English Department and Associate Director, Carter G. Woodson Institute, African-American & African Studies at the University of Virginia

Maurice Wallace is Associate Professor, English Department and Associate Director, Carter G. Woodson Institute, African-American & African Studies at the University of Virginia.  He received his BA in English literature from Washington University in St. Louis and his Ph.D. in English literature and literary theory from Duke.  Professor Wallace joined the faculty at UVA in 2014.  His primary fields of expertise are African American literature and cultural studies, nineteenth-century American literature, the history and representation of American slavery, and gender studies.  He has served on the editorial boards for American Literature and Yale Journal of Criticism.  His present research and writing agendas include a monograph on early photography in the making of African American identity on the heels of the US Civil War, and a critical exploration into the sound (vibrato-speech) of Martin Luther King Jr’s oratory.  Professor Wallace also teaches in areas of visual culture and sound studies.

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