Institute for the Humanities Fellows Lecture – Matthew Kendall: “Sound Works: Sonic Inscription as Soviet Writing in Mikhail Romm’s Oral Stories”
March 15, 2022
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM
In person and on zoom
701 South Morgan, Lower Level / Stevenson Hall, Chicago, IL 60607
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In 1921, the poet Aleksandr Blok looked back at the dissolved Russian empire from his deathbed by writing that “for a long time, no new sounds have been heard…it would be blasphemous and deceitful to even consider how a silent space once sounded” Few writers, however, heeded Blok’s warning. On the contrary, many were thrilled to inscribe their voices into gramophone discs, and several used their writing to describe or even mimic the novel sensations associated with reproduced sound. This talk will explore similar, complicated intersections between sound recording and the Soviet literary establishment, and it will argue that new techniques for capturing and replaying sound altered Soviet conceptions of preservation and textuality. To do so, I will offer a reading of Mikhail Romm’s Oral Stories, a memoir that Romm (who primarily worked as a film director) recorded with a magnetic tape recorder, which shows how Soviet ideas of reading, writing, and knowing formed in dialogue with the emergence of sound recording.
Matthew Kendall is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Polish, Russian, and Lithuanian Studies. His first book project, Sound Works: The Aural Imagination of Soviet Literature and Film uses methods from sound studies and media theory to argue that sound recording significantly impacted Soviet conceptions of artistic production and reception. His writing has been published by the Slavic and East European Journal and NLO, and his recent article on Dziga Vertov’s cinema is forthcoming in Russian Review.
Meeting ID: 839 4211 4834
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